The Great Reef Census Project
Among boats big and small are the stunning vessels Beluga, Aroona, Ocean Quest and Spirit of Freedom.
Super Yacht Group Great Barrier Reef and leading Australian yacht agent Ocean Alliance have led efforts to bring the superyachts on board.
Weekly charter rates for super yachts typically start at more than $100,000, but crew have rallied to support the world-first effort, which aims to capture the most comprehensive snapshot ever of the Reef, up to 40 per cent of which has never been surveyed before.
They joined dive boats, research vessels, island ferries, fishing charters and cruise catamarans in the Great Reef Census, which surveyed over 150 priority reefs from Lady Elliot Island in the south to the northernmost reaches of Australia, and over 13,000 images submitted to the website.
From Feb 16th, citizen scientists from around the world are invited to help analyse the images online, helping to turn the images into meaningful scientific data. SYGGBR members, Coral Sea Foundation and Aroona both participated in expeditions with teams of scientists on board.
We will not have any results of the Great Reef Census until around the end of April but it’s been a huge success so far, driven by the reef community who generously donated vessel and people time.
Please see footage here:
• Dell x Citizens partnership video which features BELUGA
- Ocean Alliance video about the Great Reef Census trip on BELUGA and opportunity for superyachts to get involved
“Our aim is to scale up the Great Reef Census again in October 2021 to reach even more reefs and get thousands of people involved,” says Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef CEO Andy Ridley.
“We will again look to mobilising every available boat on the Reef over an 11-week period, creating a survey fleet capable of reaching a much greater area than ever before.”
Mr Ridley said it was exciting to have super yachts involved because they could reach areas inaccessible to others.
“Superyachts are in a unique position to operate in remote areas of the Great Barrier Reef and utilise their resources, crew, tenders and communications to vastly improve the reach and outcomes of the project.
“Yachts who sign up to join the Great Reef Census have the opportunity to explore one of the most extraordinary places on the planet and reefs rarely visited by boats — this year we even discovered a shipwreck!” he said.
Mr Ridley said it was also a way to become involved in a conservation program that, if successful, could be exported globally.
“It’s a really meaningful way of utilising those vessels unable to do other things and the experience these boats have here might be something they can take to other places around the world.”
Superyacht Group Great Barrier Reef manager Joanne Drake said superyacht owners and crew had always had great respect for the earth’s biosphere.
“Superyachts have been extremely proactive in global conservation and development efforts and this project piques extremely high interest amongst the captains and owners we speak with, particularly after we hear reports of the amazing discoveries being made out there!” Ms Drake said.
“We are delighted that visiting yachts to our region are now deeply committed to this project, surveying our incomparable Great Barrier Reef to result in some truly tangible outcomes for future reef management and preservation efforts,” she said.
The Great Reef Census is a Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef project, delivered in partnership 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 project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Prior Family Foundation and the Reef & Rainforest Research Centre.
The next Great Reef Census kicks off in October 2021 and will run until mid-December. Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef is calling on the superyacht community to support the efforts in an even bigger way this year.
To register interest in joining the Great Reef Census, contact Joanne Drake at Superyacht Group Great Barrier Reef on email@example.com or Andy Ridley at Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef at firstname.lastname@example.org