Scientists are getting loads of people to dive into the Great Barrier Reef to assess its health
| Last updated
The Great Barrier Census, organised by Citizens of The Great Barrier Reef, is a large-scale reconnaissance project inviting everyday people to come to analyse the reef in one of the biggest efforts to protect it.
The project's launch has been documented in Stan’s upcoming film Reefshot, and LADbible sat down with Andy Ridley, CEO of Citizens of The Great Barrier Reef, to celebrate the film’s release.
Ridley revealed that AI built by Dell Technologies has allowed thousands of photos to be analysed daily.
This means unhealthy regions are identified quicker, so action is taken more promptly.
“So we’ve got a really simple methodology. So if you’re competent in the water and you can gain access to the reef, you’re basically taking a GoPro or something similar, and you’re swimming along the side of the reef, taking an image every five fin kicks," he told us.
“So every time you've done five kicks with your fins and then you upload them, and it’s really simple.”
He added that more than 70 First Nations groups were heavily involved in the census; however, participants continue to diversify.
“A lot of First Nation groups [are] involved, and tourism industry, massive participants, they’ve got boats going in different places. The dive industry [too], but it’s slightly different because they’re more likely to go to the remote places,” he told LADbible.
He added that even ‘spearfishing [and] even the odd super yacht gets involved’.
And this citizen science effort to survey Australia’s greatest natural wonder is the first of its kind.
“It’s actually utilising what is an amazing asset, all the vessels and people on the reef, to start really driving the conservation effort on the reef,” Ridley continued.
“If humanity gets their act together, the reef could be fine. It will be affected, and it’ll be affected significantly, but it’s not too late to see a change. But it totally depends on how quickly and how fast we act.”
According to Ridley, getting involved is easy.
“In 15 minutes, you can do a whole bunch of photographs, and that data is helping design everything we’re building to scale it up, and it’s providing valuable information about what the state of those reefs are,” he said.
Unlike many other climate campaigns, it’s not all doom and gloom, as the CEO insisted there’s still time to save the reef.
But every day counts.
“For all the things that we’ve done wrong as humans and all the challenges we’ve created for ourselves, something like this, there’s something amazing when you see what we’re actually capable of in the other way - in a positive way,” he shared.
“You can see humanity at its best, and often we talk about humanity at its worst.”
You can see how the mission is unfolding by watching the Stan original documentary Reefshot, which is available to watch now.