Citizen scientists monitor reef health off Cairns
VISITORS to the Great Barrier Reef are being recruited as citizen scientists to help monitor the health of the Reef over the next 10 years and all they have to do is take a photograph.
Victoria University researcher Martin Fluker last week installed three aluminium posts, dubbed Fluker Posts, on a pontoon about 50km off Cairns owned by Reef Magic Cruises.
Visitors to the Marine World pontoon are being asked to take photos at either of the three stations and email the images to Dr Fluker and his team who will then upload them to a website.
The photos will be stored in chronological order, allowing researchers to observe any changes to the Reef.
Two posts overlook the northern and south-east aspects of the Reef, while the third has been installed underwater near a coral shelf.
"In the underwater setting you can look at the coral and see how that changes over time," Dr Fluker said.
He said the data collection would also play a vital role if the region was struck by another natural disaster.
"If you get a cyclone Yasi, when you look down at the Reef you can see these channels that can fill up with coral debris, so this would give a good indication of how that's happening over time," he said.
While the posts have been used to monitor national parks in Victoria over the past four years, this is the first time they have been under water.
Reef Magic Cruises sales and marketing manager Jeff Cameron-Smith said he expected the exercise to be popular.
"The program provides visitors the opportunity to actively contribute towards the long term conservation of our reef," he said.
It is also supported by James Cook University.
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First post: American visitor Ann Braintwian from Atlanta is the first to use the Fluker device about 50km off Cairns.