ReefBlitz participants working at the event on Great Keppel Island on Saturday where 50 volunteers tackled marine debris on three of the beaches.
ReefBlitz participants working at the event on Great Keppel Island on Saturday where 50 volunteers tackled marine debris on three of the beaches. Malcolm Wells

CQ locals join ReefBlitz project

IN an event that saw 50 people with representatives from numerous community groups including the local branch of the Surfrider Foundation, St Brendan's College, The Rockhampton Grammar School, Lammermoor Native Gardens, GenYadaba, Reef Check and more come together to participate in The Great Barrier Foundation's ReefBlitz.

The ReefBlitz was a month long project that aimed to engage people power to capture the biggest ever snapshot of the Great Barrier Reef health and life powered by citizen science.

Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef Dr Steven Miles welcomed the expansion of ReefBlitz to cover the whole Great Barrier Reef, from coast to coral, across a month-long program of citizen science activities.

"The Great Barrier Reef has been under extraordinary pressure this year with higher sea temperatures leading to widespread coral bleaching," Dr Miles said.

"Understanding the impact of this on the Reef's health and biodiversity is vital.

"Throughout October, ReefBlitz gives people the opportunity to help collect important information about the Reef's current condition, from checking the health of corals, seagrass and mangroves to spotting key marine species such as turtles, manta rays, fish and others.

"The Great Barrier Reef Foundation's ReefBlitz program will contribute vital data that scientists and Reef managers need to help them understand how the Reef is recovering and what needs to be done to help it for the future."

The local event saw participants remove over 175kg of marine debris that included over 12900 individual pieces of which 9900 were plastic. This information will now be loaded onto the Tangaroa Blue's Australian Marine Debris Initiatives (AMDI) database where it will be used to inform source reduction plans that are tailored to a specific area.

"I think it is really great that these things are happening on country and it's a real pleasure to work with likeminded people to achieve these wonderful results,” Traditional owner Uncle Bob Muir said.

"We are so lucky to have such a wonderful community that are really motivated to make a difference when it comes to conservation of our natural environment. ReefBlitz empowers these local people to gather data to become essentially become citizen scientists for a day,” Capricornia Catchments Project Officer Shelly McArdle said.

By gathering and evaluating marine debris data we can build a picture about the source of these items and begin reducing their use or preventing them from entering our oceans in the first place". "Every single piece of marine debris we remove from our beaches represents one less piece that will impact on our coastal and marine ecosystem and wildlife."

Holly Lambert from Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said "Citizen science enables anyone out on the Reef to collect valuable information about Reef health, animals and incidents. The long-term on-the-ground data gathered is vital for understanding Reef health and identifying management actions necessary to protect the reef ecosystem.

President of the Capricorn Branch of the Surfrider Foundation said "l recon more people are interested in volunteering for activities such as this but the key is to transform interest into action and days like this provide that opportunity, enabling people to really contribute to making a change.

It is also of immense value when it comes our local economy to preserve the tourism values of our place and we want to ensure that our beaches and natural areas are looking their best for visitors to the region."

With support from ReefBlitz major partners including the Queensland government, Boeing, Quantas and Orica, with additional support from Queensland Water and Landcarers for our local event, we were able to really make a difference onground by removing the debris and collecting vital data that will inform source reduction plans into the future.

If you would like to know more about this and other similar events in your local area contact Janeen at Capricornia Catchments on 4921 0573, email admin@capcatchments.org.au or alternatively, sign up to be a member by visiting the website: www.capcatchments.org.au.



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