Joint media release: Census to shine a light on the Great Barrier Reef

8 October 2020

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
The Hon Warren Entsch MP, Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley and Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef Warren Entsch have called on Australians to support the first ever “Great Reef Census” which will see boats deployed across the 2,300 kilometre length of the Great Barrier Reef.

Launched in Queensland today by Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef and funded by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Great Reef Census, will, over the next ten weeks, collect under water images across 100 priority reefs to help inform key management and research decisions.

As well as involving reef experts, the tourism industry and citizen scientists in the collection of the images, the project will engage people from around the country in analysing the images that will be published online over the coming months.

“This is a wonderful initiative and an important step in telling the diverse story of a Reef that covers 344,000 square kilometres and some 3,000 individual reefs,” Minister Ley said.

“The sheer size of the Reef means that it can be very hard to capture the whole story.

“This week’s Federal Budget includes funding that will engage tourism operators in targeted surveillance and conservation projects and the Great Reef Census will add another important dimension.

“The Great Barrier Reef faces significant climate challenges but it is also remains a spectacular marine environment that we are working hard to protect.”

Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Warren Entsch said that people can register to take part in the analysis by visiting

“There are so many parts to the Reef that it is hard for people to appreciate the whole story,” Special Envoy Entsch said.

“There are magnificent places to visit, parts that are under stress, parts that are recovering from bleaching and cyclone damage.

“This is a project that is backed by the Federal Government through the Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and which has the support of Universities, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

“As people are engaged in this project, both on the water and in reporting on images online, I think it will help them understand the wonderful complexity of the Reef and the ways people are working together to protect its future.”

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said: “As the action station for the Reef we’re proud to be bringing together people and science to support this program that will help save this irreplaceable ecosystem and its marine life for future generations.

“With the Reef spanning an area the size of New Zealand, this project could help address an important gap in information by mobilising citizen scientists, and this critical pilot program will allow us to test the impact of this approach.”

CEO of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef Andy Riley said: “To achieve the scale required as we scale up the Great Reef Census requires a massive collective effort and that's what we're seeing from the tourism industry, to some of the Reef’s top scientists, tech companies and reef managers.

“In essence we’re utilising the skills, vessels and knowledge of many passionate people to build a reef wide research flotilla.”

The Great Reef Census is a Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef project delivered in partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the University of Queensland and the Australian Institute of Marine Science and is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Prior Family Foundation and the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre.

For further information visit:
Launch video is available here.