There are two Master Reef Guides whose work, as Australian Reef Pilots, covers the entire Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. 26 Master Reef Guides operate in the Cairns region, including locations such as Frankland Islands, Green Island and Fitzroy Island.
You can read the profiles of each Master Reef Guide in the Cairns and Reef-wide regions below, including the High Standard Tourism Operator they work for, their professional experience, and what they specialise in.
Master Reef Guides are the world’s leading reef guides, interpreters and storytellers sharing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
These reef ambassadors can provide up to date information on the Reef, share stories of the magical World Heritage Area and explain what you can do to make a difference.
Meet your Master Reef Guides - Reef-wide
Master Reef Guide | Coastal Marine Pilot | Australian Reef Pilots | Great Barrier Reef (Cohort 4)
Master Reef Guide Bruce is an Australian Reef Pilot. The Australian Reef Pilots have been protecting the Torres Strait and the Great Barrier Reef for more than 125 years and are proud to be known as Guardians of the Reef. Bruce takes his role seriously as he safely guide ships through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Bruce enjoys presenting the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area to the guests or crew onboard the ships he is piloting. As an excellent presenter he ensures from the moment they enter the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to the time they leave, that their experience is an enlightening and memorable one.
Master Reef Guide | Coastal Marine Pilot | Australian Reef Pilots | Great Barrier Reef (Cohort 2)
Master Reef Guide Vikram Australian Reef Pilots have been the ‘Guardians of the Reef’ for more than 100 years and, to this day, our Reef Pilots remain the most vital defense against calamitous maritime accidents. His role takes him on board to an array of ships from cargo ships to luxury cruise ships and everything in between.
Vikram’s ‘office is 2300km long covering an area the size of 70 million football fields with over 4500 ships going through this marine highway every year. It is Vikram and his colleagues as Reef Pilots who are doing their best in guarding the Great Barrier Reef.
It is a legal requirement for ships more than 70m in length to have a licensed Reef Pilot on-board to navigate them through the Great Barrier Reef.
"There are some really talented people from diverse academic and cultural backgrounds whose sole aim is to protect this World Heritage site and showcase it to the world. The Master Reef Guide program is a wonderful connection between these academics in the marine field and the workforce who present the Great Barrier Reef to our visitors".
Meet your Master Reef Guides - Cairns
Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist | Reef Teach Cairns | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 3)
Master Reef Guide Abby has worked for Reef Teach for over six years and at no time has her passion waived. She has this incredible desire to share accurate information about the Great Barrier Reef and realises the importance of doing so. Abby hosts presentations daily with visitors and children to share her knowledge in an accurate and informative way through stories and interpretation.
Abby’s favourite thing about the Great Barrier Reef is understanding behavioural adaptations of marine animals and corals. She believes behaviours are overlooked and once you understand why, or how an animal or coral acts a certain way you can relate to them, and that helps bring that connection between people and the Great Barrier Reef.
“I’m honoured to be a Master Reef Guide as it means being part of a great network of people who are all so driven and passionate about providing the best information possible.”
Master Reef Guide I Marine Biologist | Entrada Travel Group - Frankland Islands | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 2) (From: Italy)
Master Reef Guide Alessandra is a Coral Biologist whose passion for coral reefs started at the age of eight when her father took her snorkelling in the Red Sea for the first time. Since then, Alessandra always wanted to become a marine biologist. Alessandra has been a scuba diver for over 20 years and, while studying in the Red Sea, developed her interest for underwater photography.
Alessandra moved to Australia to study at one of the best university’s in the world for marine science, James Cook University, and hasn’t looked back. Alessandra has been working for Frankland Island Cruises since 2014 as a Marine Biologist. Every day she shares her love and knowledge with visitors and students from all over the world, while monitoring and researching the corals around Frankland Island.
"Being part of the Master Reef Guide program is very rewarding. The program recognises the importance of knowledgeable guides out on the Great Barrier Reef. We educate our guests on the importance of looking after our precious environment with passion and enthusiasm. Making as many people aware of the repercussions of our actions is crucial for us all to protect this fragile ecosystem."
Alistair Chegwidden – Master Reef Guide | Deck Supervisor-Marine Biologist | Down Under Dive and Tours | Cairns (Cohort 5)
As a child, Alistair spent his holidays on the East Coast of South Africa where he would spend hours in the rock pools looking for creatures that intrigued him. This childhood interest grew into a career when he undertook a BSc Aquaculture at James Cook University (JCU) Townsville and completed his Dive Instructor training through Down Under Cruise and Dive in Cairns. Since 2014 Alistair has been leading dives and providing educational snorkel eco-tours while working on MV Osprey V and MV Evolution to try and instils his own childhood wonder and interest into the guests that come aboard for their once in a lifetime trip out to the Great Barrier Reef.
Alistair hopes that with enough research into the ocean and into the anthropogenic factors that affect his “office”, we might see a day that we can start to reverse the effects we have had on our Environment.
Anthony Flinn hails from the cooler climate to the South East of the Great Barrier Reef, Upper Hutt, New Zealand. He is a Marine Biologist and self proclaimed entertainer working on various day trips for Quicksilver Group in Cairns, Australia. Anthony studied Marine Biology and Statistics at Victoria University of Wellington and had experience in many different lines of work before joining Quicksilver Group in 2022. He notably also spent 6 months in Northern Thailand exploring biodiversity and leading hikes as a volunteer on an elephant eco-tourism project. As an accredited Master Reef Guide he hopes to inspire, educate and influence visitors to the Great Barrier Reef and to show people that they can contribute to its future.
Azri Saparwan – Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist | Fitzroy Island Resort | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 3) (From: Singapore)
Master Reef Guide Azri started his career in the biomedical science field, he wanted to help the sick and injured. For over two years he was a combat medic for the Singapore Armed Forces. He went through various rescue and first aid missions around the world. Azri suffered from PTSD until a diving experience changed his life.
“We came across a sea turtle who was entangled in a net who I was able to free, it felt good and I realised I still wanted to save lives but in the natural world; the marine world”.
Azri moved to Adelaide, Australia to study marine biology and this is where his journey began. Azri started a volunteer program to assist a sea turtle rookery in Indonesia.
After growing up in Indonesia, he witnessed that Indonesia still has a high poaching rate of sea turtles and the rangers are overworked and underpaid. So using his reach, he created a volunteer program to get volunteers to assist in the centre. Azri has volunteered in Ngarloo, Malaysia and several other sea turtle nesting sites, sharing his knowledge and passion for sea turtles.
Today, Azri is the Conservation Officer at Fitzroy Island Resort. His role involves reef management of the island and giving educational tours to guests. He also maintains the wellbeing of sea turtles seeking treatment in the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and giving educational tours to raise awareness on the threats to sea turtles.
Azri remains dedicated to conservation and citizen science, including as the Volunteer Coordinator for Reef Restoration Foundation, who nurture and grow coral fragments on a nursery and transplant back onto the reef at Fitzroy Island.
“I am honoured to be a Master Reef Guide because it gives me greater power to achieve my objectives. I have the power of knowledge to raise awareness to conserve these iconic wonders. The sea turtle completely changed my life and I am doing my best to save theirs”.
Ben Taylor - Master Reef Guide | Skipper | Ocean Free and Ocean Freedom | Cairns (Cohort 5)
Ben grew up spending the better part of his childhood living on a 43ft catamaran sailing up and down the east coast of Australia. This made him fall in love with the Great Barrier Reef and inspired him to pursue a career on the water, studying a Bachelor Degree in Marine Science. He believes that “the more you learn about something, the more you will fall in love with it and feel compelled to protect it.”
These days you can find him sailing and cruising on Ocean Free and Ocean Freedom in Cairns where he has worked as a Skipper, Marine Biologist and Dive Instructor for the past 5 years.
Ben considers himself very lucky to have the best office in the world and gets great enjoyment out of seeing the look of wonder on people’s faces when they see the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef or learn an interesting fact!
Cale Golding - Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist | Experience Co. – GBR Biology | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 4)
Master Reef Guide Cale is a Marine Scientist, with a Master’s Degree in Tropical Ecology and Conservation Biology. Cale discovered that the more he learnt about the marine world the more he wanted to protect it.
Cale has spent time living in Madagascar, for three years working on a marine biodiversity and conservation project. Cale returned home to Australia, and to the Great Barrier Reef where he has been employed at Reef Magic as a Senior Marine Biologist with the Great Barrier Reef Biology team. Cale focuses on interpretation of World Heritage Values, reef health monitoring and research across all Experience Co’s reef products in the Cairns Regions.
“As a Master Reef Guide, it means I am part of a network of people throughout the Great Barrier Reef, sharing the same goal of showcasing the best of the Reef, to the world. I am part of something which is more than just the sum of its parts, and I now represent something bigger than myself. The Master Reef Guide Program creates ambassadors, and that responsibility, as well as being thoroughly rewarding, should be respected”.
Catherine was raised on the beaches and reefs of Oman, igniting her interest in the marine world. She spent her fifth birthday camping with nesting green turtles, by twelve she was a scuba diver. Turning her hobby into a career, she gained a Bachelors in Marine Biology and a Masters in Tropical Coastal Management. Growing up in a country with endangered marine wildlife and witnessing firsthand the changes to the reefs fuelled her passion to help protect and conserve the natural world. She has travelled and worked extensively on marine conservation projects and understands the wealth of knowledge that local communities have. She is excited to learn more about the history of the Great Barrier Reef and its peoples. Working here gives her the opportunity to encounter a new species every day and she hopes to share this experience with the guests on her tours. She knows that people protect what they love and there are so many species on the Great Barrier Reef, everyone who is lucky enough to spend time in the ocean can find something to love. She hopes that future generations will continue to have a reef to visit and ignite their passion just as hers was.
Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist | Trip Director | Dive Instructor l Coral Expeditions | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 4)
Master Reef Guide Dani grew up alongside the Great Barrier Reef which instilled in her a deep appreciation and passion for its biology and natural systems. Her passion for ocean conservancy led her to university to undertake a Bachelor of Science in Biology. After her degree she went on a Marine Biology exchange Program and Research Internship to the Galapagos Islands. During her three years on the Galapagos Island she became fluent in Spanish! Dani was fortunate enough to work alongside the Galapagos Naturalist Guides and saw how their training was so effective in the preservation and protection of the Galapagos National Park she wanted to transfer these skills to the Great Barrier Reef.
Coming back to Australia after presenting at the Superyacht Environmental Symposium in Monaco she became a Dive Instructor and developed a career at Coral Expeditions where she shares and educates the wonders of the Reef to a global audience.
“To be a leader in the communication and education of the true science and wonder of the Great Barrier Reef to a global audience is amazing. It allows those who work in the field access to peer reviewed information about the Great Barrier Reef and the tools to be able to present those facts in captivating stories. This allows for visitors to develop a love and personal investment in the Great Barrier Reef”.
Master Reef Guide | Indigenous Ranger | Reef Education Ranger | Experience Co. - Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 4)
Master Reef Guide Dustin works with Experience Co. Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel as an Indigenous Ranger. Dustin is very fortunate to have connections to four Great Barrier Reef clan groups; the Kuku-Yalanji, Yirrganydji, Yidinji, Gunggandji.
Dustin’s was born with a cultural connection to the Great Barrier Reef, “my passion for the reef and the marine life it holds will never go away because it is a part of me and makes me who I am”.
Dustin has had many teachers throughout his life who all taught him to "look after the place (land and sea) and in return it'll look after you and those who'll be here after you (the next generation)".
“Being a Master Reef Guide means that I am a now part of a special selective group that is leading the way to show Australia and the rest of the world, no matter your nationality or where you come from, we can work together as one to reach a common goal. As an Indigenous Australian, I can be a role model and show them, that no matter how hard it may be, you can be all that you can be, if you carry yourself with pride for your culture and the respect of your family, your buma (people) and your country (tribal area). Being a Master Reef Guide is an honour and I wear the title with pride”.
Master Reef Guide I Marine Biologist | GBR Biology Manager | Experience Co – Reef Magic Cruises | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 2)
Master Reef Guide Eric grew up in North Queensland and graduated from James Cook University in Townsville in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Marine Biology. Following university and extensive travel overseas, Eric settled back in North Queensland and followed his passion for understanding and exploring the Great Barrier Reef, where he has worked extensively in tourism. Eric currently manages Exco Biology — the biology department for large adventure tourism company, Experience Co. Experience Co. operates several products in world heritage listed areas.
GBR Biology and their team of marine biologists pride themselves on quality interpretation being delivered to visitors, scientific monitoring and research. Eric is currently undertaking a PhD through James Cook University in coral reef fish forming aggregations on the Great Barrier Reef.
“Master Reef Guides introduced me to like-minded people who share a passion for interpreting natural world heritage sites.”
Master Reef Guide | Reef Educator |Skipper | Marine Biologist | Reef Teach | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 1) (From: South Africa)
Master Reef Guide Gareth’s passion for the ocean started as far back as he can remember. Originally South African, Gareth moved to Australia in 2008 with his wife. Gareth completed his Master’s degree in South Africa, working with the Oceanographic Research Institute, Centre for Dolphin Studies and other coral propagation projects.
Gareth has now been working on the Great Barrier Reef for over 10 years. He is the owner of Reef Teach, Cairns’ longest standing Great Barrier Reef research and education centre. Over the last 10 years, Gareth has educated thousands of people about the Great Barrier Reef.
Gareth’s main goal is to share as much about the Great Barrier Reef to as many people as possible to strengthen its conservation status.
As a Master Reef Guide and through his extensive reef knowledge, endless energy and passion, Gareth will convey these important key messages to the world.
Master Reef Guide | Dive Instructor Trainer | Training Manager | Gempearl | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 1) (From: Great Britain)
Master Reef Guide Gary grew up watching wildlife documentaries but found it hard to find anything of interest living in an industrial town. He then learnt to dive in Jamaica on honeymoon and was instantly hooked.
Living in South East Asia for 18 years, he became a diving instructor and technical diver. Part owning and running SSI SE Asia (Scuba Schools International), he took the business from 500 yearly diving certificates issued to just short of 30,000 across 6 countries over 9 years. This feat granted him influence on dive professionals, pushing safety and care for the environment as priorities. During this period, living in Thailand, Gary witnessed the impacts of tourism and uncontrolled development on many previously pristine reefs, beaches and rainforests. He strategically sought funding and permissions to get rules enforced for environmental issues.
Gary now lives and works in Cairns as the Training Manager for the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program. Becoming a Master Reef Guide has given Gary a great opportunity to get the message, mindset and skills needed to the next generation.
Growing up in the seaside town of Redcliffe, Jack spent his childhood in and around the ocean. He could not wait to learn to dive. So for his twelfth birthday, he completed his PADI Open Water at Heron Island, returning a year later to do the Advanced Course. It was at Heron Island, diving with manta rays, reef sharks and turtles for the first time, that ignited his interest in underwater photography, learning more about sea life and ocean conservation. After leaving school in 2018, Jack was offered a dive instructor internship in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. Living, working and diving in one of the most unspoilt places left in the world, was a once in a lifetime experience. Whilst working and training to become a dive instructor, he spent his days exploring uncharted, pristine reefs, learning about local customs, WW2 history and sharing his knowledge and fascination for the underwater world with dive guests. Jack returned to Australia in 2020 and started work as a dive instructor and coxswain at the beautiful Lady Elliot Island. Here, he joined a passionate, like-minded team of people dedicated to protecting the reef and sharing countless incredible underwater experiences with friends and guests. In June this year, Jack was delighted to join Mike Ball Dive Expeditions in Cairns, as underwater photographer and dive instructor, giving him an amazing opportunity to visit and showcase the spectacular Great Barrier Reef.
Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist | Experience Co. – GBR Biology | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 3)
Master Reef Guide Justin is a Senior Marine Biologist with Experience Co. Throughout their fleet of vessels Justin provides interpretation on the Great Barrier Reef to guests visiting various islands and outer reef sites in the Cairns region.
From his very first introductory dive Justin has been fascinated by coral reefs. After completing a Bachelor and then Honours in Marine Biology at Deakin University he was drawn to the Great Barrier Reef.
As part of the Great Barrier Reef Biology team in Experience Co Justin prides himself on the high-quality interpretation provided to visitors. To support this Justin is also involved with many of the research and management projects including Crown of Thorns Starfish control and research, as well as reef restoration. He is also heavily involved with monitoring including the Eye on the Reef program with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
He is strongly involved in the reef education program, working extensively with local schools and visiting education groups to discover and foster an appreciation for the Great Barrier Reef.
Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist | Dive Instructor | Passions of Paradise | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 4)
Master Reef Guide Kirsty started diving at the age of 21, and from that moment, she fell in love with it and knew that this was what she wanted to do for her future. From then on, Kirsty will take on any opportunity to get in the water, this lead to working at the Aquarium of Western Australia as an Ocean Guide and volunteering to do biodiversity surveys in the tropical waters of Rottnest Island and Ningaloo Reef.
After seeing the Great Barrier Reef for the first time she wanted to see and know more. Kristy works as a Dive Instructor and Master Reef Guide at Passions of Paradise where she has remained for the last 3 years living her dream daily.
With a degree in Marine Science and Kirsty’s outgoing personality, she relays facts and stories to guests in a fun and entertaining manner. When leading dive or snorkel tours, she likes to show the guests the ‘weirder’ residents of the Great Barrier Reef.
“I get to share my passion for the Great Barrier Reef with guests, and present them with current information, received through the Master Reef Guide channels, to invoke in my guest a deeper passion for the Reef”.
Master Reef Guide | Dive Master | Trip Director | Mike Ball Dive Expeditions | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 1) (From: Cuba/Australia)
Master Reef Guide Kiana grew up between both Cuba and Australia, enjoying the experience of different cultures and education systems.
Kiana decided to become a teacher at a young age and learnt to dive during university years. What began as a respite from study, quickly became an obsession with exploring Great Barrier Reef. After taking up full time teaching, she realised that she had to merge her love for teaching with her passion for diving. She now works for a Mike Ball Dive Expeditions that takes divers to explore remote locations on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea.
“The time spent with the Master Reef Guides team has lit a thousand fires within me. We are reminded once more of not only the Great Barrier Reef’s immense beauty, but its vital role in all our lives. I am thrilled there are bodies in our government and industry who truly care, who are invested in creating educated and passionate voices for the World Heritage site we are so privileged to call home”.
Master Reef Guide | Dive Instructor | Mike Ball Dive Expeditions | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 3)
Master Reef Guide Kristy has been a Dive Instructor working on the Great Barrier Reef for years. She has taken all her years of knowledge, humour, positive and pleasant vibes with her to the team on luxury dive liveaboard vessel, Mike Ball Dive Expeditions. As Trip Director, her smile and captive briefings will give you an experience of a lifetime. Prepare to be informed and amazed with all you need to know about the best and safest way to visit the northern reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and out in the Coral Sea.
“Being a Master Reef Guide is being a part of a whole other family (and not your average family). This family has been built from a huge amount of enthusiasm, love and expertise for very special common interests; the World Heritage sites of The Great Barrier Reef. The beauty and wonders shared between these symbiotic heritage areas are simply mind blowing. I love sharing these “wow” moments I’ve felt, learning each bit of new information within our family and passing it on to our excited guests. One of the most rewarding parts of the job is opening people’s minds and hearts to preserve the future of these sites and I feel very privileged to be recognised as a Master Reef Guide”.
Master Reef Guide | Senior Dive Instructor | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 2) (From: Columbia)
Master Reef Guide Laura has been a Senior Dive Instructor for three years, making her an important agent for change within the company and gaining her the appreciation of her students. Originally from Columbia, Laura has always had a passion for the environment.
Laura manages to work full time, study and volunteer in varied organisations, highlighting her passion and devotion for the Great Barrier Reef. Her multi-disciplinary skills make her adaptable and valuable in all the organisations she is a part of.
Laura’s love for the Great Barrier Reef and passion for the environment have become inspiring for many customers and co-workers. Combined with her communication and marketing skills, she makes the perfect candidate to represent the Great Barrier Reef on a local and international stage.
Laura will always go above and beyond her duties to help the environment and communicate her knowledge to others.
“I am incredibly lucky to be part of the Master Reef Guides. I have learnt lots and believe the Great Barrier Reef is the best office I’ll ever have”.
Lazarus Gibson-Friday – Master Reef Guide | Indigenous Cultural Guide | Experience Co. | Cairns (Cohort 5)
Lazarus’s family is from Cooktown, Far North Queensland, and he has been working on boats since he was 15. His stepdad got him into being a tour guide as he used to drive the bus up to the Atherton Tablelands and into Cape Tribulation. He has been taking Lazarus with him since he was about 11 years old, and he would get him to talk about the things they saw and could hear and that was his first taste of this work.
Since then, Lazarus has been studying for his Coxswains and dive certifications, prior to this when Lazarus was still in school; he received a traineeship with Shimano and travelled to places like the Tiwi and the Gold Coast as a Fishing Guide to show people how to catch fish. Lazarus has been working for Dreamtime Dive/Experience Co. over two years, since finishing school. Lazarus has been teaching people about the Great Barrier Reef and his culture and how they went hand in hand with the things around them.
“I love this line of work as it lets me challenge myself and look at things in a way I never knew.”
Born and raised in Pensacola, Florida along the Gulf of Mexico, Le'a has always been inseparable from the ocean. Passionate to help the environment, she pursued a Bachelor and Master degree from the University of Florida in Natural Resources and Conservation and Wildlife Ecology. She then worked as an environmental educator in Florida before becoming a dive instructor on the Great Barrier Reef. She has been working and volunteering on the reef as far north as Lizard Island and as far south as the Capricornia Cays conducting Eye on the Reef surveys, giving informative reef presentations, and conducting Marine Bio for a Day programs. Le'a is one of the eco-guides on Passions of Paradise where she educates guests daily about the importance and wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and assists with the Coral Nurture Program and coral planting. She volunteers in her free time with the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and the Great Reef Census. She is driven to sharing knowledge and passion with every visitor to the Great Barrier Reef and making sure their experience is one they will never forget.
Master Reef Guide | Dive Instructor | Ocean Freedom | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 3) (From: Barbados)
Master Reef Guide Lourace, otherwise known as ‘Lou’ works at Ocean Freedom which is based out of Cairns. With a bubbly and vibrant personality, you won’t miss her onboard! Lou brings to each guest her extensive knowledge of the marine life, and her ability to make first time visitors to the Great Barrier Reef at home in the ocean. She shares her knowledge freely and is always seeking the opportunity to share a story.
Lou feels deeply fortunate for the opportunity to spend time in the water while inspiring others to respect, protect and appreciate our marine environment. Lou looks forward to passing that preservation on to you, your family, and for generations to come.
“I feel like I am part of an elite team well equipped with all of the latest information and it is my duty to share it! I feel incredibly honoured to be a Master Reef Guide”
Master Reef Guide I Dive Instructor I Reef Naturalist | Sunlover Reef Cruises | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 2) (From: Great Britain)
Master Reef Guide Luke has gone from teaching in Thailand, dancing with devil rays in Costa Rica and exploring the shipwrecks of the Bermuda Triangle, Luke landed in Australia in 2011 with big dreams. The Great Barrier Reef is everything Luke had hoped for and more. Every day, Luke continues to learn new and incredible things along the Great Barrier Reef and is excited by the fact that there is still so much more to discover.
“Working for Sunlover Reef Cruises as a Dive Instructor and Reef Naturalist gives me an incredible opportunity to inspire and educate many visitors to the Great Barrier Reef. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a Master Reef Guide and have such a positive influence on others”
Matt was born and raised in Cairns, exploring the tropical rainforests and beaches of the Far North his entire life. Matt always had a passion for the ocean; it was embedded into him from a young age because of his regular family trips out to the Great Barrier Reef. Matt's first ever job on the reef was working for the government in the Crown of Thorns control program out of Cairns. This is where he discovered his passion for diving. Nowadays, you'll find Matt on board Ocean Freedom as a Dive Instructor, Glass Bottom Boat Tour Operator and Snorkel Guide. Matt also trained to become part of the Coral Restoration Team within his company. Even on his days off, Matt loves adventuring out to the reef as he believes there is nothing more exciting than exploring new reefs and finding different species of Marine life.
Martina Zarri – Master Reef Guide | Dive Instructor and Supervisor | ProDive Cairns | Cairns (Cohort 5)
Stories about Australia and the Great Barrier Reef have captivated Martina since her studies at University in Italy, where she graduated with a Masters in Biodiversity and Evolution. Martina learnt about creating engaging and educational experiences for school groups during her time as a Tour Guide at Aquarium di Cattolica on the east cost of Italy.
Seeing the Great Barrier Reef for the first time exceeded all Martina’s expectations with its variety of life and its incredible ecosystems. Being involved with researchers from around the world during an internship at Australian Institute of Marine Science was an incredible experience for Martina, especially being part of a group studying the unique natural event of Coral Spawning and this made her understand how fragile and sensitive the reef is.
“Now I live and work on the Great Barrier Reef as a Dive Instructor for ProDive in Cairns which gives me the chance to live the reef during the day and night and see the seasonal changes. I share stories with my students and love educating them about the incredible Great Barrier Reef which has become an integral part of my life since I moved to Australia.”
Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist | Trip Director | Coral Expeditions | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 3)
Master Reef Guide Marysia decided to pursue her love for the ocean by studying Marine Biology at James Cook University in Townsville. She was involved in various research projects with CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Marine Science designed to understand how climate change would affect corals.
Marysia works as Trip Director onboard Coral Expeditions, where she is responsible for guest education and safety. Marysia loves to share her knowledge with guests and uses her time onboard the vessel to ensure the knowledge transferred both to guests and crew is everlasting. She believes everyone who works in the tourism industry should have the same high standards of the product and services they deliver.
“Master Reef Guides are connecting people back to Mother Earth and showing them why it is worth protecting. Not only do we want to take people out to the Great Barrier Reef and give them the best experience, we want to create a feeling that lasts a lifetime”.
Melissa Alps is a PADI Master Instructor who began her dive training in New Zealand in 2013. Her love of teaching student divers from Open Water level all the way up to Instructor is what brought her to the Great Barrier Reef five years ago. Since then, she has worked for Entrada Travel Group on their various vessels as Crew Trainer and is now the Trip Director of their premier live aboard Spirit of Freedom. On board Spirit of Freedom, Melissa meets customers from all over the world and takes them on the adventure of a lifetime, heading out to some of the most pristine and remote parts of the Great Barrier Reef, including Osprey Reef and other locations in the Coral Sea. During her briefings, she has the chance to focus on the beauty that is under the surface and help people fall in love with the Great Barrier Reef. She is passionate about the Reef and Ocean and wants to encourage and work with people to look after it for future generations to come.
Master Reef Guide I Trip Director | Dive Instructor | Entrada Travel Group - Spirit of Freedom and TUSA Dive | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 2) (From: US)
Master Reef Guide Michelle is a charismatic and engaging speaker who enjoys entertaining a crowd. Michelle has broad knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef from its evolution, to its development over the past 8,000 years, to the legacy of human use. Michelle is passionate to share her knowledge with future generations so they can learn from the past and be inspired to protect our natural world.
Michelle has been a Dive Instructor and trainer with Spirit of Freedom and TUSA Dive for the past nine years. Michelle has taken hundreds of dives and thousands of people diving on the Great Barrier Reef and she still enjoys every moment of it.
“Becoming a Master Reef Guide is absolutely the next step in my career. To enthusiastically share my new knowledge with current and new staff, with my worldly passengers and also through my social media platforms – the future of the reef depends on people like me that can inspire and motivate the thousands of people I encounter and work with each year”.
Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist | Experience Co. – GBR Biology | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 3) (From: US)
Master Reef Guide Michelle is a Marine Biologist at Experience Co, working on a variety of boats taking day trips from Cairns to the outer Great Barrier Reef, Fitzroy Island, and Green Island. She has been with the company for over two years and in addition to daily guided snorkel tours and marine biology presentations, Michelle is also involved in the Crown-of-thorns Starfish Research and Control Program at Moore Reef.
“As a Master Reef Guide I am now a role model and ambassador for the industry and the Marine Park Authority. I have access to high-level training and a network of like-minded individuals and can share knowledge with guests as well as co-workers to improve the overall standard of interpretation on the Great Barrier Reef.”
Master Reef Guide I Dive Instructor | Entrada Travel Group - TUSA Dive | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 4)
Master Reef Guide Naoko, fondly known as Naz, discovered her love of diving in 2014 and spent much time in the water volunteering in the Maldives, Fiji, Thailand and Bali. She then spent the next 2 years teaching people how to explore the oceans of the Indo-Pacific she realised it was time to return home to Australia and explore her Queensland backyard – The Great Barrier Reef.
“I realised that I hadn’t had the chance to dive and see the beautiful reefs back home in Australia, so I packed my things up and moved to Cairns to see what the Great Barrier Reef had to offer’.
Naz wasn’t disappointed and her passion for the reef and underwater world led her to study marine biology at university. Fast forward to today, Naz is now working as a dive instructor with TUSA Dive and is busy sharing her knowledge with guests.
“The Great Barrier Reef never ceases to surprise me. Whenever you think you’ve had the best dive/snorkel in your life, the Great Barrier Reef shows you that it just gets better and better. Working as a dive instructor and a Master Reef Guide on the Great Barrier Reef, gives me the opportunity to share amazing experiences and educate customers about the beautiful reef and it’s inhabitants. I believe that coming out to the reef and seeing it in its glorious state will inspire people to protect it, wherever in the world they are from”.
Master Reef Guide | Trip Director | Dive Instructor | Entrada Travel Group - Spirit of Freedom | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 3) (From: Great Britain)
Master Reef Guide Nick has always loved being in, near or on water. It was no surprise that when he discovered the ability to see, breathe and swim underwater through the use of SCUBA that Nick’s changed. He found a love and passion for the ocean and a path that allowed him to push his boundaries and continually practice, perfect and develop new skills. This led Nick to becoming a Dive Instructor which has allowed him to guide others through the simple processes required to experience something truly incredible; the underwater world.
Moving to Australia and experiencing one of nature's wonders, the Great Barrier Reef, drove him to become the Trip Director of one of Australia’s premier liveaboard dive vessels TUSA-Spirit of Freedom visiting the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea reef systems.
Nick specialises in exploration of the remote Far North regions of the Great Barrier Reef having spent eight years exploring and discovering new dive sites. He has now visited places with his guests that no one else has ever visited, delivering unique experiences and sharing his passion of exploring the incredible ecosystem that is the Great Barrier Reef.
Being privileged to experience so much of this World Heritage Area has reinforced for the Nick the role and responsibility that those that live, breathe and understand the environment have to do everything in their power to educate and protect such a valuable resource.
“I am honoured and privileged to call myself a Master Reef Guide, being part of an inspiring and empowering collection of unique individuals that combine their extensive skills, knowledge and experiences to create the world’s leading Reef experiences. Being part of this special group has the potential to make a big difference in protecting the World Heritage Area that is of huge significance to humanity as a whole and has been the centre of my life for the last ten years. It is incredible to be working together with like-minded people from industry and being involved with passionate people in the government that are dedicated to protecting the place that we all call home”.
Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist | Sunlover Reef Cruises | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 1) (From: Spain)
Master Reef Guide Pablo grew up dreaming of being a Marine Biologist on the Great Barrier Reef. Hailing from Madrid he completed his Marine Biology degree and moved across the globe, to Australia where he has achieved all this and more.
Pablo is based in Cairns and works as a coral reef ecologist and diving instructor for Sunlover Reef Cruises. Over the past four years, he has had the privilege of sharing the beauty of the world’s largest coral reef system with guests from every corner of the world. Changing and inspiring people is the most rewarding part of Pablo’s job.
Pablo is a passionate advocate for ocean conservation and volunteers for Cairns and Far North Environmental Centre Marine Response Team, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Divers for Reef Conservation, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef and Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. Pablo is one of the ‘Eye on the Reef’ program’s champions, regularly monitoring and assessing the health of his sites.
Pablo’s love for the Reef is infectious. Through the Master Reef Guide Program, he hopes to spark a passion for reef conservation.
Master Reef Guide | Trip Director | Divers Den | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 2) (From: Italy)
Master Reef Guide Paolo was born and raised in Italy in the countryside south of Milan and was always in contact with nature. One of his idols growing up was Steve Irwin — Paulo was inspired by Steve’s irrepressible passion every time he encountered any kind of wildlife. Paulo studied Natural Sciences so he could follow in Steve Irwin’s footsteps and be a documentarist. He then moved to study Marine Sciences in the Maldives, where he learnt how to engage people with knowledge and passion for coral reefs.
Paolo continued to explore the natural world and has worked as an Environmental Guide and Naturalist Guide in several countries, all the while witnessing the importance of guides. Finally, Paolo landed in Australia and has begun his career as a Dive Instructor and Trip Director with Diver’s Den.
“This is the beginning of a new chapter in my life, being able to learn so much and share my passion with such amazing people during the training and through the network created made me so much richer! Let the fun begin…”
Phillip Coulthard – Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist | Quicksilver Group | Cairns (Cohort 5)
For as long as Phil can remember, the world below the surface of the water has fascinated him. As a child growing up in Cairns, it was not a surprise that Phil’s love and fascination for the underwater world would eventually steer his life down the path of Marine Biology. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science from James Cook University. His early years of employment included a Curatorial role at an Oceanarium along with various tour guide roles out of Cairns and Port Douglas.
Then in 2001, Phil was appointed the Operations Manager for The Dolphin Discovery Centre, a Marine Conservation organisation with a focus on the lives of a wild population of Bottlenose Dolphins in Bunbury, Western Australia.
The Centre provided an amazing opportunity for Phil to continue his enthusiasm for tour guiding through a number of interactive dolphin experiences, however the development of the Centre’s research, education and conservation initiatives was by far the motivation that kept him employed there for almost 20 years.
Since he returned home to Cairns in 2019 Phil has had the opportunity to re-connect with the Great Barrier Reef. He is currently work as a Marine Biologist for Great Adventures, part of the Quicksilver Group.
Phil grew up in Sydney and spent his childhood holidays snorkeling off the coast of New South Wales. After finishing school, he worked as a swim teacher in the Maldives where he marveled at the complexity, beauty and wonder of underwater marine life. His sense of adventure ignited, Phil further pursued his passion by studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Marine Biology at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. During his studies, his love of the Great Barrier Reef grew as he was lucky enough to visit multiple research stations along the Great Barrier Reef. After graduation, he moved further north and completed his dive master traineeship with Down Under Cruise and Dive in Cairns where he currently works as a Marine Biologist, Dive Instructor and Deck supervisor. Phil’s roles aboard the MV Evolution include conducting regular Eye on the Reef surveys, educating passengers from all over the world and cleaning, maintaining and contributing to multiple Coral Nurseries. Phil’s daily goal is to share his passion, helping people to appreciate the value and beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, and to motivate those he reaches to keep the health of the planet in mind when making decisions at home in the future.
Quinn was born and raised in Cairns, with his father having direct connections to the Great Barrier Reef surrounding Murray Island in the Eastern Torres Strait Islands group (Dauareb Tribe). Despite growing up in Cairns, a place full of reefs, he had never actually been out to many of them. Until he started work in February 2019 where he completed a traineeship with GemPearl to become a Divemaster. During this time, he went from boat to boat, finding out how beautiful the surrounding reefs were and how much there was to learn about them. That’s when he realised, he had a natural passion for the reef and teaching about its heritage. After completing his traineeship, he went on to join Experience Co working on Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel as a Cultural Coordinator, teaching people not only about the biological aspects of the reef but also sharing indigenous stories and knowledge of the surrounding area and its people. Since joining Dreamtime, he has now become a Dive Instructor and teaches dive courses to many Indigenous ranger groups up the coast of the Great Barrier Reef to help conservation efforts of the reef and water ecosystems that they have back in their country (tribal area).
Remy Millard – Master Reef Guide | Dive Instructor | Passions of Paradise | Cairns (Cohort 5)
Growing up on a small island off the coast of Brisbane, it was only natural for Remy to become passionate about the sea and everything it contained. This led to him being a part of island conservation groups such as Bushcare and participating in countless beach cleans as well as being a Surf Life Saver. The next step in the marine journey would come in the form of the Crown-of-thorns starfish control program based out of Cairns, which took Remy from his career as a Chef and launched him into a career in the underwater world.
“After spending four years working on the tour vessel Passions of Paradise in many different roles, I am excited to be a Master Reef Guide and continue to help others better understand and appreciate this incredible world that we know so little about.”
Master Reef Guide Richard was born in Sydney and became infatuated with the Great Barrier Reef on a family holiday to Linderman Island in 1978. Adventure driven, he was an Officer in the Australian Army for nine years.
Richard has a wealth of diving and life experience, first learning to dive in 1985, and became a Dive Instructor when he left the Australian Defence Force in 1995. He has worked as a Dive Instructor in Sydney, Airlie Beach, Townsville and now Cairns.
Richard’s passion for the Great Barrier Reef is reflected in his drive to better educate divers to respect and protect the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Master Reef Guide | Environmental Manager | Passions of Paradise | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 1) (From: USA)
Master Reef Guide Russell was born in Denver, Colorado in the United States and has lived in Australia for the past 12 years. Working for Passions of Paradise in Cairns for over 10 years. As Environmental Manager, Russell is responsible for the on-board marine naturalist presentations and guiding, all of the educational materials and programs, as well as liaising with various government departments, scientific organisations and environmental groups.
Science is at the core of his job, but Russell knows that people play a key role in protecting the environment. Russell’s passion for the ocean is hard to miss and his educational talks reinforce that even the smallest changes we make can ensure marine habitats are preserved for future generations to come. Russell is a real life superhero for the Great Barrier Reef.
“Today I embark on the greatest journey of my career; in 2019 I am an inaugural member of the Great Barrier Reef’s “Master Reef Guides”.
Master Reef Guide | Marine Biologist and Education Manager for GBR Biology - Experience Co. | Tropical North Queensland(Cohort 2)
Master Reef Guide Samantha is a Marine Biologist and Education Manager for GBR Biology with Experience Co. Samantha combines her lifelong passion for the marine environment with her desire to educate people to deliver memorable experiences for thousands of visitors to the Great Barrier Reef each year.
Samantha has diverse experience across a range of marine tourism products including a remote tropical island resort, whale watching tours and as a Dive Master. Samantha’s drive to continuously grow has her working full-time whilst undertaking further studies. Samantha’s favourite thing about the Great Barrier Reef is that it reveals none of its secrets from the surface but once you get into the water and put your face below the surface, the most beautiful colours, shapes and textures appear.
Samantha has been recognised for her expertise in guiding through her graduation as a Master Reef Guide.
“I’m so proud to be a part of this amazing group of people! I’ve never seen so much passion, enthusiasm and knowledge about the Great Barrier Reef in one place!"
Master Reef Guide | Dive Instructor | Photographer | Entrada Travel Group – Spirit of Freedom | Tropical North Queensland (Cohort 4) (From: Japan)
Master Reef Guide Takuma loves nothing more than showcasing the beauty and magic of the Great Barrier Reef to guests.
Takuma has worked for over 8 years as a Dive Instructor and Photographer with Entrada Travel Group onboard Spirit of Freedom and when he is not in the water, he enjoys delivering onboard marine presentations using his own underwater photography. He has a strong affinity with the marine environment and patience to find even the smallest critters in the vast maze of corals.
“The people who made the Master Reef Guide Program are very passionate for the Great Barrier Reef. Every day at the training school I listened to presentations from famous researchers, who I have never been able to meet before, it was incredibly inspiring”.