Studying the Great Barrier Reef

For those who have been following me know I went to Australia a little while ago and you also know I care for the environment. Therefore, with each destination I give back to the environment in some type of way. I may donate to a local cause, offset my carbon emissions or volunteer with a local organization. For Australia, I spent a day snorkeling at the reef while collecting data for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for the Australian Government. Today, I'm going to discuss with you: what the organization does, how I helped and the different opportunities they have where you can help!

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What is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)? And how does it help the reef?

The GBRMPA is an Australian government statutory agency responsible for the protection and health of guess what...the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. They are responsible for ensuring that one of the world's greatest natural treasures is protected for years to come. They have managed the park for about 40 years through the assistance of mariners, researchers, and experts. They currently have a 25 year management plan which outlines their field work, policies, strategies, and engagement in partnership with Australian governments. To learn more about the Authority, please visit their How the Reefs Managed page.

This Authority helps the reef in various manners such as:

  • it advises the Australian government on the care and development of the reef;

  • it is the primary regulator for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef Region;

  • it engages local and international communities, businesses and agencies to influence best practices and finding solutions to secure the Reef's future and;

  • it accesses and captures the best available science and information for the reef.

All of this provides people reef education as well as protecting it from future harm. I suggest reading their strategic plan to understand more in detail information about what the authority does and has in store.

So...what did I do to help this Authority and the Reef?

During my bucket list trip to Australia, I spent a day snorkeling on the reef but while doing so, I completed Rapid Monitoring surveys for the authority. The purpose of this survey is to collect information about reef health indicators, protected and iconic species and emerging reef health issues allowing for the Authority to see what is happening on the reef daily. This may provide an early warning of dangers and health issues of the reef. The best thing about this survey is that anyone can do it while snorkeling or diving without having a scientific background. You also still get to enjoy the reef and carry on with your normal activities (with care) while on your excursion.

You do have to take a training before doing this survey which has about six modules and a final exam. This allows for you to have an overview of how to conduct the survey, what species to look out for, benthos and more. I did them over a course of a few weeks on my own schedule. It isn't too time consuming and it was very informative.

I really enjoyed this experience and I wish I could participate on a more frequent basis. Below you can watch my snorkeling video of the reef!

I know, you want to help the reef but you really don't want to take a training ahead of time...I GET IT!

Well the GBRMPA has other opportunities to help the reef. The other opportunities are as follows:

  • Sightings Network: You can download the Eye on the Reef app to learn more about creatures living there and submit your sightings while visiting. Anyone can participate in this activity.

  • Tourism Weekly Monitoring Surveys: This is good for someone living in the area who can commit to a weekly survey for an extended time period. But this is similar to the Rapid Monitoring Survey I told you about earlier, except long-term. This requires a foundation training, quarterly meetings, and in-water training.

  • Reef Health and Impact Surveys: This survey tool provides vital reef health status updates to inform the Reef Health Incident Response System and trigger management actions. The data from this program allows Marine Park managers to compare results on individual reefs and between reefs. This requires a foundations course and full day in-water training.

  • Sightings and Surveys: This requires some training and experience.

  • And of course there are plenty of things you can do at home, at work and at school to help the reef from wherever you are in the world! Check them out here!

All of their programs are FREE to participate in and all of the trainings are FREE as well. You can learn more about each of these categories by visiting their website here!

Within the last few years, the reef has endured significant losses due to rising temperatures, extreme weather patterns, diseases, invasive species, and any direct careless actions of tourists. The reef (which is made of coral which is an animal) can endure these conditions only if temporary. But if exposed for too long, it dies. We have do what we can to protect this beauty. As when it dies, it may not ever come back. Do what you can to help as this not only helps the reef but the planet and all of its living things.

What have you done to help the planet today? Comment below!

Have you ever participated in this program? Tell me your story below!

Thank you for reading!

~ Kita the Explorer

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