Citizen scientists help protect Barrier Reef


Fitzroy Island Resort, off Cairns, is offering guests the chance to help care for injured turtles and assist with monitoring the Great Barrier Reef.

Fitzroy Island Resort marine biologist Laura Pederson with a coral-eating drupella snails.
Fitzroy Island Resort marine biologist Laura Pederson with coral-eating drupella snails.

Chief Executive Officer Glen Macdonald said the launch of the Fitzroy Island Resort Marine Conservation Program coincided with the property’s recent Eco Certification with Ecotourism Australia.

“Fitzroy Island Resort Master Reef Guide and marine biologist Azri Saparwan has created the program as part of the resort’s ongoing support for the two not-for-profit organisations that undertake conservation activities on Fitzroy Island,” he said.

“This full-day tour is the first opportunity for guests to go behind the scenes at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre to help care for the sea turtles and to assist with the Reef Restoration Foundation’s coral restoration work.”

Mr Saparwan said guests could get involved by cutting up food to feed the turtles and cleaning the tanks at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

Participants will also contribute by getting in the waters off Fitzroy Island.

“They will assist with the centre’s research into the local sea turtle population by identifying the turtles they see when they are snorkelling at the front of the resort in Welcome Bay,” he said.

“If someone discovers a new turtle, they will have the honour of naming it.

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“Participants will then be taught how to identify and remove the coral-eating drupella snail before snorkelling over the sites where the Reef Restoration Foundation has planted corals grown in Australia’s first offshore coral nursery at Fitzroy Island.

“They will also undertake an Eye on the Reef survey identifying the corals and marine life seen while snorkelling to inform the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.”

The Marine Conservation Program operates on Mondays from 9am–4pm for guests aged 16 years and older.

The $199 fee includes lunch, refreshments, snorkel gear and a donation to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. The program is part of the Federal Government’s Tourism Industry Activation and Reef Protection initiative.

Children can do a half-day tour with a marine biologist through the Junior Marine Biologist Program.

The Wet Session for children who are confident swimmers aged 10 and over includes snorkelling, the Eye on the Reef survey, fish feeding and water quality testing.

It operates on Sundays from 9.30am–12.30pm and costs $65.

The Dry Session for ages five to 10 includes beachcombing, fish feeding, water quality testing and marine-themed crafts on Saturdays from 9.30am–12.30pm and costs $45.

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The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.