|Reef Check Australia's Community Engagement Officer, Jodi Salmond|
By Reef Check Australia
In June, the Reef Check Australia team spent almost 2 weeks learning, teaching, surveying, wildlife-spotting, and plotting in Exmouth on the Ningaloo Coast, Western Australia. Although Reef Check was started in Western Australia in the 1990s, this trip was a maiden voyage for the current Reef Check Australia team and an opportunity to work with new partners, stakeholders and volunteers to figure out the best steps to build a sustainable Reef Check program.
Ningaloo Reef is Australia's largest fringing coral reef and also the largest reef found on the western coast of any continental landmass. Tropical and temperate waters meet on Ningaloo Reef to create an amazing diversity of marine species, found hugging the edges of the arid coastline. Famous for their seasonal whale shark visitors, our team also had the chance to see dugongs, manta rays, humpback whales and turtles… not to mention plenty of coral communities just metres off the beach.
This special place certainly deserves to be included within the realm of Reef Check monitoring locations and the program was welcomed by the local community, Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife, tourism partners, reef researchers and newly trained snorkel volunteers! Reef Check Australia is thrilled to be helping local volunteers actively contribute long-term reef health data and support the efforts of other existing research and management initiatives in the region.
The team trained 9 dedicated and enthusiastic snorkel volunteers and established 5 new long-term monitoring sites on the beautiful fringing reefs around Exmouth. You can see images from the trip in the online Photo Gallery. The summary report will be available online soon.
This project is supported by Reef Check Australia, through funding from the Australian Government's Caring for our Country. For more information on Reef Check Australia, check out their website at http://reefcheckaustralia.org