This week, the world’s leading scuba diver organisation, PADI has announced its partnership with is the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef on a first of its kind citizen science project to help protect the earth’s largest reef system. The Great Reef Census provides an opportunity for divers everywhere to impact the long term health of one of the most iconic dive destinations on the planet through online image analysis.
“As the impacts of climate change and other threats accelerate around the world, there is an urgent need to scale-up conservation efforts globally, which requires everyone to take part,” says Andy Ridley, CEO of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef. “The global dive community is in a unique position to support these efforts with the skills, passion and knowledge needed to support marine conservation efforts.”
From October to December 2020, divers, dive boats, marine tourism operators and others in the reef community were mobilised to create a makeshift research flotilla. Their mission: to capture large-scale reconnaissance data and images from across Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Dive crew, scientists, tourists and conservation groups volunteered hundreds of hours and surveyed more than 160 reefs from the tip of Cape York to the remote southern Swains. Over 13,000 images were captured and uploaded to the Great Reef Census platform to be analysed.
“As PADI scuba divers and professionals, we are all ambassadors for our oceans,” said Michelle Barry, a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer based on the Great Barrier Reef. “The Great Reef Census is a ground-breaking idea for ocean conservation that is inclusive of anyone with access to the internet. This allows people all around the world to visit the Reef virtually and to be part of an important project to protect it.”
PADI and Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef are calling upon divers worldwide, and all who care about the future of the ocean, to help turn these images into meaningful data, helping scientists and managers better understand the health of the reef system. Each image can be analyzed by anyone, anywhere, with internet access and a few minutes to spare.
We encourage everyone to get involved in the survey at greatreefcensus.org. To learn more about issues impacting ocean health and ways to be part of the solution, join the community of PADI Torchbearers uniting to save the ocean at padi.com/conservation.