Monitoring the inshore reef on Magnetic Island
Since 2003, Reef Check Australia volunteers have been collecting locally and globally relevant reef health data as a part of a long-term monitoring program within the Townsville region. Inshore reefs are extremely important environments, offering refuge and nursery for a variety of invertebrate and fish species.
Magnetic Island inshore reefs are resilient; despite being impacted directly from activities occurring on land. Around Magnetic Island alone, volunteers have donated 4,608 hours and collected 23,040 pieces of substrate data, along with data on invertebrates, impacts and fish.
Hard coral is one of the most important substrate categories we measure. Since our monitoring began, average hard coral coverage around Magnetic Island reduced progressively from 40 per cent in 2007 to 20 per cent in 2013/2014 however has been steadily increasing since then and currently sits around 44 per cent. The more robust foliose coral and encrusting corals (as pictured above) are the most frequently sighted. Reef Check Australia monitors several impacts to corals, with coral bleaching being the topic of most frequently asked questions.
Fortunately, coral bleaching around Magnetic Island was limited and generally affected less than 5% of the coral population during our recent surveys. Although an increase was detected in 2015/2016 during a significant bleaching event, the good news is the amount of coral bleaching detected reduced again in 2017 and has continued to remain low.
Reef Ambassador program
Recognising the gap between science, and communication, Reef Check launched the Townsville Reef Ambassador program in March 2017, and since then, its network of Reef Ambassadors has grown exponentially. They helped run the first Seaside Scavenge events for North Queensland, joined the plastic straw-free movement with the inspiring crew at The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef, and reached thousands of community members through events including market days, beach clean-ups, DIY beeswax wraps events, and sustainability days.
The Reef Ambassador program continues to grow, with new participants leading the way in reducing impacts on reefs and oceans through community engagement, education, and sharing success stories. Reef Check believes each individual plays a huge role in their community, and the group plans to continue facilitating hands-on courses to empower community members to make real differences in the world around them.
By partnering with organisations such as Townsville City Council, Reef Check is able to continue to develop its programs and train community leaders to communicate, engage and empower their peers.