This year Reef Ecologic in partnership with Reef Check Australia supported by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation have continued engaging and inspiring local communities to get involved in conservation actions that can help preserve and protect the Great Barrier Reef. A key element of the project is inspiring young people to be a part of the solution when it comes to looking after our natural ecosystems. We have worked with local schools and community groups to find ways to connect with the young people of Townsville to make a difference for our reefs. 

Our first youth workshop of 2022 was held at St Patrick’s College on Saturday, 20 August as part of the school’s sixth annual #STEMLIKEAPATSGIRL Conference (Link)  – the only event of its kind in North Queensland. The day is devoted to empowering and engaging girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Reef Ecologic hosted a multi-faceted workshop as part of the conference sharing knowledge and educating the girls from across the region in marine ecology, citizen science activities and methods and techniques to help rehabilitate reef environments. The session started with marine scientist Nathan Cook providing an introduction to coral reef ecology and the challenges facing these fragile habitats. After this short introduction students broke into smaller groups to learn about different aspects of reef conservation. 

Students were introduced to iNaturalist, a citizen science observational tool that can be used in  both terrestrial and marine environments to share their sightings and unique experiences. We practised CoralWatch coral health chart monitoring of coral colony health measuring the intensity of the symbiont algae in the coral tissue as a measure of coral health. CoralWatch is specifically designed to measure changes due to warming ocean temperatures, a useful tool given future predicted climate change stressors. Finally the students were introduced to different reef restoration techniques available to citizen scientists providing a hands-on experience of this relatively novel management tool that is being used increasingly across the GBR marine park. 

At the conclusion of the session the students were reminded that the biggest threat to coral reef health in the future is our changing climate and that we all have a role to play in implementing actions to reduce our impact. We hope that this introduction will inspire these young people to participate in citizen science activities on their next visit to the Great Barrier Reef, or even around their home with the iNaturalist app. Additional everyday actions to reduce our carbon footprint were encouraged including actions such as turning off lights, encouraging parents to invest in green energy and technologies and looking for ways to reduce consumption pressures on our natural resources.

It was the first of many events conducted as part of Reef Ecologic’s Integrated Coral Reef Citizen Science 2.0 Program, funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. The aim is to encourage and inspire more young people to get involved to make a difference for the future health of not only the Great Barrier Reef, but of all our natural ecosystems. 

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on where these activities take place, the the Wulgurukaba and Bindal People of the Townsville and Magnetic Island region. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in our community today.

For media inquires contact: Nathan Cook (

Dropbox link for images –