For International Year of the Reef, the network agreed on a theme of taking action on plastic pollution - a cause our collective could really rally around. This aligned strongly with recent legislation from the Queensland Government to ban lightweight plastic bags (July 2018) and implement a Container Deposit Scheme (Nov 2018).
As such, two coastal clean-up blitzes in Townsville and the Mackay-Whitsundays regions were important events for the 2018 ReefBlitz line-up. These events helped strengthen connections between citizen science, local action, and regional report card Partnerships by supporting targeted clean ups that will help inform community reporting through the report card Partnerships.
195 participants joined in for the Townsville clean up blitz, removing 340 kilograms of debris (10,219 pieces!) from 11 sites across the region. Data from clean up findings was collected using expanded clean up methods from Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI). The information will contribute a baseline of debris data for the Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Waters Partnership report card to contribute to reporting on annual waterway health. The clean up blitz regional event series was funded by the Queensland Government.
Events were hosted by Conservation Volunteers Australia, JCU Sustainability Club, Reef Check Australia, Reef Ecologic, and Tangaroa Blue Foundation. Events were supported through funding from Queensland Government, with additional support from Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Waters Partnership, GBRMPA Reef Guardian Grants, and Townsville City Council.
In the Mackay Whitsunday region more than 10 partners teamed up for a series of 8 targeted series of clean up events. Data from clean ups was documented and reported through Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) and will be provided to the event funder, Mackay Whitsundays Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership, to contribute to supplementary reporting for the report card Partnership. Together, groups removed more than 772 kilograms of debris, made up of 11,247 items collected from targeted areas.
Congratulations to Conservation Volunteers Australia, Birdlife Australia, Sarina Landcare Catchment Management Association, Ecobarge Clean Seas, GBRMPA, Mackay North State High School, Alligator Creek School, Seaforth Island Charters, BMA, Mackay and Whitsunday Local Marine Advisory Committees, Reef Catchments , Mackay Regional Council, and Whitsunday Regional Council for this success story to take action on a local issue and help track debris to the source.
The Reef Check Australia team set up a new survey site at La Balsa Park on the Sunshine Coast. Locals lent a hand to clean up the area both above and underwater. One small white little nudibranch (Trapania gibbera) in particular was spotted for the first time EVER within the river!
Healthy waterways are important to support healthy reefs. Conservation Volunteers Australia trialled a Taste of Creekwater citizen science water health monitoring in Townsville, engaging locals in sampling freshwater waterbugs in Bohle Wetlands to get an indication of water quality.
Visitors to Lady Musgrave on the southern Great Barrier Reef had the chance to dive in and help with collecting information about Reef health with CoralWatch. Volunteer Ambassadors taught guests to record information about coral colour using the CoralWatch and document reports of interesting marine life sightings using the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Eye on the Reef app.
CoralWatch Ambassador and founder of Dive for Change Australia, Natalie, brought people together in Bundaberg to learn about and protect local reefs at Barolin Rocks!
Locals had the chance to dive in snorkelling, snorkelling and SCUBA. There was something for everyone and it was a great activity for the kids as there are many corals to view in the shallow rock pools.
Small World Journeys had the chance share the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef with a group of students from Pigeon Hole, population 100 and who travelled hundreds of kilometers to see the Reef in person. Students had the chance to learn all about the Reef and the Eye on the Reef citizen science program with Pablo from Sunlover Reef Cruises.
Over 100 people took part in the Tilapia Terminator and Wetland Care Day with Fitzroy Partnership for River Health. 7 year old, Benjamin Hartman, took home the rod and reel combo prize for catching the first tilapia of the day (one of the world's most invasive fish) and was very excited to have made a difference.
Fitzroy Partnership for River Health also partnered with CQUniversity to take part in the National Waterbug Blitz, awarded the Care for Creeks bursaries to North Rockhampton State High School and Yeppoon State High School and heard great presentations on fish, our waterways and research from Fitzroy Basin Association, Rockhampton Regional Council, CQUniversity and Infofish Australia. The event was also supported by I believe in a sustainable CQ and Keppel Bay Sportfishing Club.
Water quality data recorded can be found via the MyWater community monitoring portal.
70 volunteers from University of Queensland's UniDive coordinated a 24 hour event full of education and inspiration! 24 Hours UnderWater for the Love of the Reef saw 48 divers tag-team to spend a continuous 24 hours underwater. Activities included virtual reef experiences with CoralWatch and Virtual Reef Diver, ocean conservation pledges with Reef Check Australia, heaps of art and hands on science education activities and the launch of Beauty and the Reef movie. Collectively the team raised $1172, which will be split between Reef Check Australia and CoralWatch, to help them continue their great work.
In Townsville, volunteers from Conservation Volunteers Australia helped support healthy catchments starting from seed by propagating native plants for riparian areas to help improve water quality.
Cairns and Far North Environment Centre led their annual MangroveWatch survey on Trinity Inlet as a part of the 2018 ReefBlitz. The crew welcomed some new volunteers to the project and had the chance for existing volunteers to hone their skills. This marks three consecutive years of recording this estuary at this time and the data will now be given to MangroveWatch to analyse and see what changes have occurred.
Cairns and Far North Environment Centre organised a MangroveWatch Clean up and Boardwalk Tour. Together, volunteers removed over 3000 cigarette butts from a car park only 100m long! This information has been passed onto Cairns Airport and Cairns Regional Council two are co-managers of the area and they have indicated they will take action on the issue. After the clean up the volunteers hit the boardwalk to learn more about Mangrove ecology and, specifically, to be given the skills to identify the 10 most common species with help from resident citizen-scientist-mangrove-discoverer Mikey Kudo.