Citizen scientists keep a close eye on coral health

Citizen scientists met for a CoralWatch event recently, monitoring the health of the region's coral.
Citizen scientists met for a CoralWatch event recently, monitoring the health of the region's coral.

The Bundaberg community of citizen scientists recently came together for a snorkelling endeavour to monitor the health of the region’s coral.

The group of 25 met at Barolin Rocks last week for the CoralWatch monitoring event, organised through the “Reef Guardians for Generations” program by the Lady Musgrave Experience team.

“You wouldn’t imagine it by looking out over the coastline, but there’s such an amazing coral garden underneath the surface,” event organiser Natalie Lobartolo said.

“We have been using the CoralWatch citizen science method, developed by the University of Queensland, to assess coral health and act as an early warning sign for coral bleaching and other negative health impacts.

Citizen scientists snorkelling at Barolin Rocks.
Citizen scientists snorkelling at Barolin Rocks.

“With some basic knowledge, anyone is able to tell if a particular coral is healthy or not just by looking at something as simple as the colour of the corals.”

Citizen scientists of all ages

Natalie said the method was an easy-to-use tool for all ages.

“I’ve had kids as young as six and adults up to retirees getting right into it,” she said.

“It’s a fantastic way to learn more about what constitutes a healthy reef and spark an interest for marine conservation.”

“The marine park rangers and management authority can also use the information to better understand and manage our coastline.”

Natalie said the goal of the Reef Guardians program was to create as many citizen scientists as possible to help keep track of the ocean's health.

“We’re really trying to build up a community based around this, and not just for the sake of monitoring,” she said.

“It’s a great way to meet people, feel connected and inspire a love for our coastline and the beauty of nature.”

Natalie said events would be held on a monthly basis, on the last Saturday or Sunday of every month.

The next event is scheduled for Sunday, 30 June.

Up-to-date information can always be found on the Dive for Change Australia Facebook page.