Citizen science brings hope to Flinders Reef

Volunteers from the UQ Underwater Club – UniDive have launched a technical report, maps, video and an impressive photo book – Flinders, Flora and Fauna, with the aim to raising awareness of reef conservation.

Volunteers at the January 2017 training weekend.

Volunteers at the January 2017 training weekend.

The group created the first detailed map of Flinders Reef - a small isolated reef near Moreton Island - having conducted an ecological assessment of the flora and fauna and compared the results with reefs in South East Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.

Project Organiser Dr Chris Roelfsema said Flinders Reef is buzzing with an abundance of tropical fish and healthy corals with a cover similar to that of the Southern Great Barrier Reef – all just two hours away from Brisbane City.

“UniDive members have shown again that they take caring for local reefs seriously,” he said.

“They spent more than 10,000 hours collecting and analysing data, creating the first detailed habitat map, and comparing ecological findings with past surveys and other local reefs.

“The technical report has been finalised, and the reef is doing really well and stands out relative to other South East Queensland reefs.

“This demonstrates that this unique location is benefitting from both protection and its remote location.”

UniDive has a track record in producing citizen science-based conservation projects around South East Queensland, having won two awards for their Point Lookout project in 2016.

UniDive members conducted 561 individual dives to complete the assessment and mapping, and summarised all findings in a report to the Government, as well as a photo book and video.

Video by FREA.

Members were trained in Reef Check Australia and CoralWatch ecological survey techniques, including data entry and analysis, fish, substrate, invertebrate and impact identification.

The dives were partly subsidised through Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services with the help of Minister Dr Steven Miles and ING Dreamstarter Crowd Sourcing.

In-kind support came through UQ, Solar Schools, Point Lookout Dive Charters, Geoimage, Moreton Adventure and Tangatours.

Videos and photos were captured throughout the project, the best of which were published in the newly launched book.

The book will soon be available to purchase via UQ Coral Watch, Reef Check Australia and UniDive.

Report, maps and data will be available online to the public.

For more information contact Dr. Chris Roelfsema, FREA volunteer project organiser, +61 400 207 401, https://www.unidive.org/unidive-projects/frea/.

The citizen scientists in the Moreton Bay Hope Spot are living proof that the ocean is a big blue magnet that unites people who care. Their important work is benefitting the human and aquatic inhabitants of greater Brisbane by making a strong case for continued protection of this Hope Spot. Thank you to the citizens of Moreton Bay for collaborating and contributing data in the effort to protect and restore the blue heart of the planet. You are great cause for hope!” – Dr. Sylvia Earle

Videos and images by FREA and Dr Chris Roelfsema.