The Great Reef Census Project

8 December 2020 By Laura Dunn

While 2020 was a tough year for many, the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef decided to close the year out in a positive way. The Great Reef Census Project, which launched on October 8, is a 10-week survey that runs through mid-December.

Their mission is to project and conserve the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs around the world. Their goal is to inspire collaboration and a collective impact on a huge scale, including world-leading research and by eliminating single-use plastics.

Joining this effort is the Super Yacht Group and Australian yacht agent Ocean Alliance. Together, they’re leading efforts to bring superyachts on board. They recruited luxury superyachts into the world’s biggest research fleet for a massive survey of the Great Barrier Reef. It deployed a flotilla of boats along the reef’s 2,300 kilometers.

Several large and small luxury yachts got involved in the Great Reef Census Project, including M/Y Settlement, M/Y Aroona, M/Y Argo, M/Y Ocean Quest, and M/Y Beluga. They joined research vessels, fishing charters, cruise catamarans, dive boats, and island ferries in the Census to survey 100 priority reefs from Lady Elliot Island in the south to the northernmost reaches of Australia. After this stage, citizen scientists from around the world will help to analyze images online.

“The Great Reef Census is an opportunity for superyacht owners and charterers to participate in conservation efforts on the reef,” says Joachim Howard, managing director, Ocean Alliance. “Ocean Alliance is pleased to coordinate M/Y Beluga as the first superyacht to contribute to the research and assist the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef team in testing vital equipment. It is important to showcase yachting as an opportunity to not only create travel experiences but to contribute to the environment in which they operate.”

They hope to join forces with thousands. They’ll mobilize every available boat on the Reef over a 10-week period, creating a survey fleet capable of reaching a much greater area than ever before. They’re engaging all sectors of the reef community, including tourism, leading scientists, recreational reef users, and superyachts — which reach areas inaccessible to others.

Starting in mid-November, citizen scientists were recruited to take part online. The Great Reef Census is a Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef project, which is partnered up with the University of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, with support from James Cook University, the University of Technology Sydney, and the University of Tasmania.