Standard Presentation (15 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Great Reef Census – A scalable shared economy approach to reconnaissance survey reef ecosystems (#107)

Katie Chartrand 1 , Pete Mumby 2 , Andy Ridley 3 , Chris Roelfsema 4 , Jasmina Uusitalo 3
  1. TropWATER, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD, Australia
  2. School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
  3. Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, QLD, Australia
  4. Remote Sensing Research Centre, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Reefs are changing faster and at bigger spatial scales than ever before, challenging traditional monitoring resources. The Great Reef Census is an innovative citizen science-based approach designed to deliver new ways of capturing large-scale reconnaissance data from across large reef systems such as the Great Barrier Reef. It seeks to establish a broad snapshot of the Reef’s condition in a credible, scientifically sound way while also mobilising the Australian and global community in its ongoing protection. The Census further aims to complement on-going and more spatially detailed monitoring while providing a unique lens and capacity to provide timely gaps in knowledge that enables broader reef research, impactful management and conservation.

Specifically, the Great Reef Census activates a survey “flotilla” of boats from private and commercial sectors to collect geo-referenced reefscape photographs from prioritised reef locations during a targeted annual campaign across the entirety of the GBR — a ‘shared economy’ approach to building a billion-dollar research infrastructure. Survey information and photographs are uploaded to a digital platform for analysis and validation by a combination of a global virtual volunteer workforce, experts and AI. This talk will give an overview of the advancements over the first two years of the program from the in-water campaign and custom analysis platform. We will also provide a snapshot of year 1 results and how the information has been used to drive active management decisions on the Reef.