Our Eye on the Reef monitoring and assessment program enables anyone who visits the Great Barrier Reef to contribute to its long-term protection by collecting valuable information about reef health, marine animals and incidents that is used to understand the bigger picture and inform how we manage the Reef.
There are a number of ways to get involved, and everyone's contribution is welcomed — whether you're a regular day tripper, tourist on their first visit, fisher, Marine Park ranger, marine tourism staff or marine scientist.
One of the easiest ways anyone can get involved is by downloading our free Eye on the Reef app to record reef health, animal sightings or incidents. There are also other monitoring programs for people who visit the Reef more regularly, have more time or marine biology knowledge, or are willing to be part of the training.
If you're interested in getting started, check out the information here to see how you can contribute citizen science information to Australia's lead management agency for the Great Barrier Reef.
And if you can't get out to the Reef but are interested in what's happening in this great natural wonder, our interactive Sightings Network map allows anyone in the world to see the amazing wildlife being encountered and recorded by visitors to the Great Barrier Reef.
Eye on the Reef app
Eye on the Reef survey activity
Eye on the Reef Survey activity conducted in the last two years. If you are an officially qualified surveyor, please login into the Eye on the Reef Survey platform.
Eye on the Reef app
Our Eye on the Reef Sightings Network is a community-based program developed to capture people's interesting, unusual and amazing experiences on the Great Barrier Reef.
The free Eye on the Reef app empowers anyone with a GPS-enabled mobile phone to join this network of citizen scientists and contribute GPS-tagged observations.
Using the app, you can submit photos of what you have seen out on the Reef — this can include wildlife (including protected species), pests like crown-of-thorns starfish, marine pollution, coral bleaching or special events like coral spawning.
- How to get involved:
- Get an overview from the Eye on the Reef poster
- Download the Eye on the Reef app - Google play store
- Download the Eye on the Reef - iTunes
Sightings Network website
Our interactive Sightings Network map allows anyone in the world to see the amazing wildlife being encountered and recorded by visitors to the Great Barrier Reef.
The website also mirrors the Eye on the Reef app in being able to accept sightings by manually entering your observations from the comfort of your home by using the simple drag-drop map feature.
Eye on the Reef survey activity
Rapid Monitoring Survey
Our Eye on the Reef Rapid Monitoring Survey is designed for people with little to moderate reef experience who can either snorkel confidently or dive. It enables reef users to record what they see on the Reef and report that data to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
One of the strengths of the Rapid Monitoring Survey is that it can monitor the same site regularly and get an idea of changes to that site over time. It can also be used to get a basic snapshot of reef health at less frequently visited sites.
The survey can be completed in a short time, and the underwater slate is easy to use, especially for people who may not have a scientific background.
- Participants who may get value from the program include:
- School groups: use the survey as an introduction to reef biology, and then submit and view the data via the Eye on the Reef database. Eye on the Reef is linked to areas of study in the Queensland Education Marine Science senior syllabus.
- Tourism operators: involve visitors in a natural history dive that collects real data that will be used to manage and support the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.
- Indigenous communities: use Rapid Monitoring Surveys to keep track of the Reef and marine animals in Traditional Owners' sea country.
The Eye on the Reef Rapid Monitoring Survey online training program has six training modules, which include knowledge reviews and short assessment quizzes.
Each module takes up to 30 minutes to complete. Once participants review all modules and quizzes, they are ready to start undertaking surveys and will be added to the Rapid Monitoring Survey team.
Please complete the Eye on the Reef online registration to register your interest in being part of the Rapid Monitoring Survey team.
Our Eye on the Reef Reef Health and Impact Survey is a quick and efficient way to provide a snapshot of reef health at any time on any Reef.
It is a quantifiable survey method that assesses reef health in a series of five-metre radius circles (a total of 78.5 square metres). Trials have shown participants with similar training consistently achieve similar results, making this a robust and effective method of surveying.
Since 2009, we've collected thousands of Reef Health and Impact Surveys and this has provided information on the health of hundreds of reefs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
This survey tool provides vital reef health status updates to inform the Reef Health Incident Response System and trigger management actions. The data from this program allows Marine Park managers to compare results on individual reefs and between reefs.
This survey can be used as an intensive targeted impact assessment for hotspots identified through the early warning system. This enables us to quickly and effectively allocate limited resources to minimise reef damage and support reef resilience.
Management actions in impacted areas can include imposing a special management area that temporarily excludes boat traffic or certain activities such as fishing or anchoring, and working with the community and industries to put in place voluntary arrangements to limit activities that might affect reef recovery.
Once management actions are in place, this survey tool can also be used to assess their effectiveness.
The Reef Health and Impact Survey is used mainly by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and researchers. It is also suitable for tourism staff who have been involved in the Tourism Weekly Monitoring program and participants in the Rapid Monitoring who are ready to progress to the next level of surveying.
Maintaining the accuracy and quality of data gathered by this survey program is vital in order for it to effectively inform Marine Park management, so participants must complete a free basic training program.
- The Reef Health and Impact Survey training has two parts:
- Foundation training (five hours) - the first step involves completing the Eye on the Reef Reef Health and Impact Survey online training program. There are five training modules with associated movies, knowledge reviews and short assessment quizzes. Each module takes about one hour to complete. Once participants have reviewed all modules and completed the final exam, they will be added to our Reef Health and Impact Survey participant list.
- Advanced in-water training (full-day commitment) - following successful completion of the Eye on the Reef — Reef Health and Impact Survey online training course, Marine Park rangers, tourism operators, researchers and fishers can apply to attend a practical in-water training session. We conduct several sessions each year.
All other stakeholders who complete the foundation training may join these regular training courses if space permits. Opportunities for separate in-water training days for other stakeholder groups can be discussed with the training coordinator on a case-by-case basis.
Eye on the Reef Tourism Weekly Monitoring Surveys represents a successful partnership between the tourism industry, Marine Park managers and researchers.
The program began in 1997 with tourism operators undertaking regular surveys of popular areas.
Operators taking part in Tourism Weekly Monitoring supply valuable data that allows for effective management of the Reef.
Participants must commit to surveying the same reef site on a weekly basis, at least 40 times a year.
This commitment is vital, as the strength of the Tourism Weekly Monitoring program is based on gathering long-term trend data on specific reef sites.
The survey form records reef health indicators, environmental measurements and the presence of protected and iconic species. All of these factors directly relate to specific known concerns about the resilience of the Reef.
By taking part in this monitoring program, tourism operators gain detailed knowledge that can help them improve the local management of their site, update reef interpretation tours and tailor products for their visitors.
The Tourism Weekly Monitoring training has three parts.
- Foundation training (two hours): the first step involves completing the Eye on the Reef Tourism Weekly Monitoring on the Great Barrier Reef online training program. There are nine training modules, each of which takes about an hour to complete.
- Quarterly workshops (two hours, four times a year): the second step involves attending quarterly workshops in your local area, where the program coordinator will address emerging issues and a guest researcher will present on a relevant topic. Refreshers relevant to the time of year are also available through multi-media presentations.
- In-water training (full day commitment): following successful completion of the online training course, tourism staff should attend the yearly in-water training day.
Reef Discovery online learning
The Reef Discovery online course is a convenient online education package that aims to improve knowledge and understanding of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, its cultural connections, biological diversity, management and protection and how best to interpret this information to visitors.
The comprehensive training course is a free online course covering the A-Z of all things Great Barrier Reef and how best to share that knowledge with visitors.
Designed as a primer by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the course aims to inspire people to learn more about the Reef, how valuable it is and how to deliver accurate information about it in an interesting and memorable way.
This course is suitable for anyone with an interest in the Great Barrier Reef and a passion for discovery.
It consists of 10 modules and is a one-stop-shop course that synthesises and describes the Reef's World Heritage values and the latest science and management information in a contemporary format.