You may not have yet heard about the Great Reef Census - but it's something we should certainly be paying attention to.
It's the largest research study ever undertaken on our threatened Great Barrier Reef. So it's important for all of us to know more. Especially since the study needs our help to be completed.
The Great Reef Census is an extraordinarily ambitious task. It will gauge the true health of the Great Barrier Reef and the effects of climate change, which is the biggest threat to the survival of the Reef.
The first phase of the Census launched at the end of 2020; and it involved a mission to capture large-scale reconnaissance data from across the 2,300km length of the Great Barrier Reef. Now, the second phase requires the help of everyday people 'Citizen Scientists' from all over the world. The project needs our support analysing the images, and conservation group Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef is calling on every day people to give five minutes of their time.
Anyone can do it - you don’t need to be a scientist or a marine biologist to take part. Visit the website, select a reef image and ‘colour-in’ where they see key elements including coral, sand and rubble. At the end, you’ll see a map marking the reefs you’ve helped to analyse. It's that simple.
Environmental Science student and creative Astrid Holler recently joined an expedition out to the reef to shed light on the study and help with the study's second phase. She joined photographer and environmentalist Alice Wesley-Smith and founder of Earth Hour and CEO of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef Andy Ridley.
The three of them and their teams ventured to Milln Reef and Moore Reef with Professor David Suggett from UTS and scientists from Great Barrier Reef Biology to observe how this conservation project is helping to save our Reef.
"The Great Reef Census is providing vital information and data to scientists, which helps them have a better understanding of how individual reefs are coping with stress, and how to better manage and protect the Reef's future. By encouraging people from all around the world to get involved, Citizens of the GBR are bringing awareness to climate change and the environmental issues the Reef is facing," says Holler.
"There are so many incredible efforts going on but they mean little in the face of climate change. Warming oceans are by far the biggest threat to coral reef systems. Switch to a renewable energy provider, move your money to banks that don’t support the fossil fuel industry, use natural cleaners in your home as everything we use washes down the drain and into our waterways.
"And get involved in the Great Reef Census! It’s fascinating and addictive and every bit makes a difference," says. Wesley-Smith.
With many of us still in COVID-19 in lockdown, this is a way that all of us can join in a major conservation project from our homes wherever we are on the planet.
To take part visit greatreefcensus.org and follow @citizensgbr .