Reef Check and REEFSearch
Our guests now have the opportunity to become 'Citizen Scientists'. Lady Elliot Island is the first Great Barrier Reef tourism operator to adopt a visitor monitoring and research program that provides guests with a meaningful experience. Reef Check and REEFSearch programs allow visitors to become involved in reef education and conservation, providing invaluable research to scientists and the international monitoring programs. In early 2013, Reef Check Australia (RCA) established four (4) new monitoring sites at Lady Elliot Island with a team of trained volunteers. We now have a total of five (5) RCA sites on the Island. You can see information collected by their teams on the online RCA Reef Health Database.
The team also launched their new REEFSearch program in February 2013. REEFSearch is a casual reef identification and observation that offers snorkellers, reef walkers or SCUBA divers the chance to dive in and learn the basics of Reef Check concepts, then share their findings. Students and teachers from the University on the Sunshine Coast, in addition to Lady Elliot Island staff and visitors joined the Reef Check team to conduct the first ever group REEFSearch using the LEI branded REEFSearch slate.
Since the launch, guests have been encouraged to participate non-guided REEFSearch snorkels or reef walks. Slates are available in the Education Centre for guests to use at their leisure and guests can upload their survey findings and photos into the REEFSearch Hub by using the new laptop in the Education Centre or once they return home.
This new observation program has proven to be extremely popular for education groups and passionate guests eager to learn more about the marine environment and assist scientists with understanding the health of our reef.
Lady Elliot Island continues to support another research and monitoring program and regularly hosts the University of Queensland's Project Manta research team. Project Manta relies on the help of the diving community to report manta ray sightings along the east Australia seaboard and monitor individual occurrences, mass aggregations and seasonal migrations. Guests on LEI are also encouraged to use the new laptop in the Education Centre to upload and send their photos of manta rays to the Project Manta Team for identification.
See Project Manta page.