Scientists team up to help the Great Barrier Reef

Wednesday, 22 August, 2018

Scientists team up to help the Great Barrier Reef

Citizen scientists from around Australia are taking part in Virtual Reef Diver, a project that is helping scientists and reef managers get a better picture of the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

Virtual Reef Diver — the ABC’s online citizen science project for National Science Week — is being funded through the Australian Government’s Inspiring Australia strategy.

Spatial scientist and project leader Dr Erin Peterson from Queensland University of Technology said, “The response we’ve had from citizen scientists has been amazing. We couldn’t collect this volume of data without their help. We’re taking their classification data and feeding it into our scientific models of the reef, to better understand issues like changes in coral cover across the reef.”

So far, the scientists have looked at over 2.6 million points on more than 170,000 underwater images of the reef and shared whether they can see coral, algae or sand.

“Virtual Reef Diver is such an exciting and unique project, combining statistical monitoring and citizen science to tackle one of Australia’s — and the world’s — most urgent issues, the protection of the Great Barrier Reef,” said statistician Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen from Queensland University of Technology.

And it’s not too late to help the reef by diving through your computer, tablet or mobile screen from wherever you are around Australia.

Virtual Reef Diver ( will be running until at least the end of the year, but if you take part during August you could win a GoPro camera. Every five images you classify during August give you an entry into the competition.

“I’ve seen the impact citizen science projects can have, through the many online projects the ABC has run for National Science Week,” said ABC Science’s Kylie Andrews.

Image credit: © Jacobson

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