This March the ReefClean project has Monitoring Clean-up events happening all across the Great Barrier Reef Region. These Monitoring events are delivered quarterly and include both coastal and estuary sites.
Monitoring Clean-ups are very different from normal community clean-ups in that it is a much more structured process, and site locations must meet more stringent requirements. These events would appeal to those citizen scientist volunteers who appreciate a scientifically rigorous process.
The Monitoring Methodology has been designed by a team at the University of New South Wales, which divides the site into transect areas that are sampled. With the use of GIS and other technologies, the same transect areas are used every time to ensure consistency. There are also strict timeframes that must be adhered to with sampling to be performed within 4 hours of low tide with the time of sampling and tide height recorded. Site characteristics and other environmental conditions are recorded such as substrate, exposure to waves, beach direction and length, proximity to urban areas and human activities, etc. Photographs are taken of each area before and after the clean-up activity, and the presence of plastic resin pellets will be noted using the Plastic Resin Pellet Rating Tool. Twice a year, a microplastics sample is also taken at these sites.
It is a robust process, but volunteers will be guided every step of the way. A trained coordinator will lead all monitoring activities with safety and training briefings to be conducted at the beginning of each activity and the coordinator will also oversee data collection.
We invite those intrepid citizen scientists who enjoy a vigorous scientific process to come along and be part of these Monitoring Clean-ups. A detailed calendar of events and clean-ups is available here.
ReefClean is funded by the Australian Governments Reef Trust and is delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation, Conservation Volunteers Australia, AUSMAP, Capricornia Catchments, South Cape York Catchments, AUSMAP, Eco Barge Clean Seas, Ocean Watch Australia, and Reef Check Australia.