Twelve months at sea, 12,000 nautical miles: our citizen scientists get a real taste of Reef Life

A 12-month circumnavigation of Australia by volunteer citizen scientists aboard a sailing catamaran has ended with its docking in Hobart's Prince of Wales Bay.

The Reef Dragon left Port Davey, Tasmania, on February 16 2013 on an anticlockwise journey around our continent, as part of the most comprehensive and unique survey expedition of recent times.

Now, after sailing more than 12,000 nautical miles, and surveying more than 750,000 m2 of rocky and coral reef, the crew and divers have returned to a warm welcome from fellow Reef Life Survey Foundation (RLSF) volunteers, family and friends.

The Reef Dragon has been on loan to the RLSF since February 2013 for use as a diving platform by Professor Graham Edgar, co-founder of the program and senior research fellow at the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS).

The circumnavigation has included the establishment of a marine baseline of reef biodiversity for the new Commonwealth Coral Sea Marine Reserve network, including surveys at almost all reef systems within the Coral Sea region, most with no prior biological information. 

It also included the collection of biodiversity data from 157 new sites from the offshore North West Shelf region, including the Rowley and Geographe Shoals, and the Ashmore and Scott Reefs.

The RLSF is a non-profit environmental organisation that works with government agencies, and includes a board of volunteers and a committed team of recreational SCUBA divers who have surveyed more than 2000 reefs around Australia and in more than 40 other countries since 2008. This is the only Australia-wide set of systematically-collected information on marine communities to date.

For more information on the program please visit www.reeflifesurvey.com

Published on: 19 Feb 2014 4:27pm