Faculty of Science

Choose destination - Great Barrier Reef is off the map

Travelling through the Australian mainland without a descriptive map would seem a little challenging, but it can’t be helped when sailing the Great Barrier Reef, because incredibly there is not such a map.

Now donor-funded support is needed to help fund the research to map the entire reef so that habitat and reef wildlife can be better managed and protected.

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences Research Fellow Dr Chris Roelfsema is leading the project and says Australia lacks the most basic and essential environmental information to understand and manage the world environment icon and UNESCO World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.

“Unfortunately, there is no complete map of the Reef showing the coral habitat or area and types of coral present along its 2,300 kilometre length,” he said.

Dr Roelfsema is supplementing traditional field data collection with remote sensing using satellites, drones and the documented observations of volunteer community members.

“Without these techniques and new mapping and modelling technology it would take 400 years to map the entire Reef and its 2,900 individual coral reefs and grass beds,” he said.

His aim is to develop one baseline map for the whole of the Great Barrier Reef and to contribute to improved monitoring and management activities for reef conservation.

Dr Roelfsema works with a team of scientists, divers and researchers from many different agencies, but it’s a big job and help from the public is always welcome and appreciated.

More than ever the reef, and the communities depending on it, need this map to enable more effective protection and management.

You too can join the community of Australian’s contributing to the management and sustainment of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders by supporting this project today.

Help our scientists map the Great Barrier Reef.