The team at Lady Musgrave Experience is calling for their next volunteer Reef Keeper to help spread awareness about the health of the region's surrounding ocean life.
Marine biologist for Lady Musgrave Experience Natalie Lobartolo said Lady Musgrave Reef Keepers are members of the local community engaged as citizen scientists.
“This involves monitoring the local reefs (in particular, Lady Musgrave Island Reef) as well as sharing positive reef health messages with the community,” she said.
“You don’t need any marine biology background, just a real passion for the reef and a desire to protect it.”
Natalie said the role was important in sustaining Lady Musgrave Island.
“This program has led to a dedicated team of reef surveyors visiting on a regular basis, meaning that any changes in reef health can be observed, documented and sent through to management authorities in a timely manner,” she said.
“This allows for a fast and effective management response if any threats arise.”
Natalie said Reef Keepers underwent training involving a set of online modules and practical activities, as well as in-water training at the reef.
“This sets them up to identify and document key species important to reef health, as well as any threats,” she sad.
“Just as importantly, Reef Keepers each have a ‘community project', which involves them sharing a reef health message with the community.
“Whether this includes teachers sharing resources, knowledge and activities with their students, or activities as simple as sharing social media posts or talking with their friends and networks, the Reef Keepers have a wide reach of impact.
“Some Reef Keepers are even rangers from mon repos turtle conservation centre and have integrated some of their new knowledge into their roles, sharing reef health messages as they are related to healthy turtle populations.”
Natalie said the volunteer role would include trips to the reef for training and ongoing program participation.
“The initial training period for Reef Keepers consists of three consecutive reef trips (all within one month), then fortnightly to monthly trips on an ongoing basis,” she said.
“Some are more active than others in getting out to the reef, while others are more focused on the community outreach element.
“Both are equally important.”
Natalie said the overall goal of the Reef Keeper program was to create a community of citizen scientists and bring like-minded people together who are passionate to make a difference.
“The first Reef Keeper group was created in October 2019, and the next intake has just been selected and had their first introduction session via Zoom due to current restrictions around coronavirus; it was really successful,” she said.
“We also have a ‘Marine Biologist for a Day Experience', which we encourage people to try before becoming a Reef Keeper; it’s a bit of an introduction/teaser to what’s involved.
“We are working on developing a junior reef keeper program for kids as well.”
To find out how you can get involved or to apply for a Reef Keeper volunteer position click here.