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Virtual Reef Diver

National Office

Coral reefDive into the Great Barrier Reef through your computer screen and become a Virtual Reef Diver citizen scientist with this year’s ABC Science Week national project.

Anyone in Australia can join in! And you could win an underwater camera, just by taking part.

The ABC’s citizen science project Virtual Reef Diver will celebrate the International Year of the Reef by asking Australians all over the country to help scientists identify areas of decreasing coral cover and other problem spots on the Great Barrier Reef.

“There is a lot of diversity across the reef – different parts of the reef are declining, but some parts of the reef are improving,” said Professor Kerrie Mengersen, statistician at Queensland University of Technology.

“So if we’re going to preserve the reef we really need to know much more about it at that local level, and we can’t get that information unless we have data from a wide range of areas across the reef.”

Virtual Reef Diver will see citizen scientists helping out with this kind of data and it will enable scientists to build models and provide information that’s useful to managers.

To be involved as a citizen scientist you just need to go to the Virtual Reef Diver website and sign up! You’ll be shown underwater images of the Reef and, using the simple classifying tool, asked to identify whether there is hard or soft coral, algae or sand etc at different spots in the images.

It’s simple and fun to do – and the more images you do, the more entries you’ll get in the competition to win an underwater camera.

This work will provide scientists and reef managers with the information they need to make critical decisions to ensure the GBR has a future.

The project has been developed by the Queensland University of Technology, in conjunction with a host of scientific and community organisations.

Virtual Reef Diver will be launched for National Science Week in August.

Image credit: Yen-Yi Lee