April 16, 2021


CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA (April 21, 2021)

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has been officially declared as Hope Spot by Mission Blue. Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef have been named Champions of the newly launched Hope Spot in recognition of their work with a range of partners across tourism, research, and conservation on projects to protect and conserve the GBR.


Hawksbill sea turtle (c) Grumpy Turtle Creative


To celebrate the launch of the new Hope Spot, which coincides with Earth Day, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef and Mission Blue are calling on ocean lovers across the globe to dive in and take part in a live conservation action to help protect the GBR. 

By joining their Earth Day online event, citizen scientists can visit greatreefcensus.org and help analyze some of the thousands of survey images captured from across the GBR during the inaugural Great Reef Census — and in doing so, contribute directly to the future of the newly launched GBR Hope Spot. Each image can be analyzed by anyone, anywhere, with internet access and a few minutes to spare. The Facebook event is now open for the public to discuss their experiences and ask questions.


(c) Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef


Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue, says, “My first glimpse of the Great Barrier Reef was in 1975 and I have been drawn back there repeatedly. It is perhaps the greatest treasure of the natural world, but so much has already been lost, and more is at risk of being lost right now unless people step up to save what remains and restore what can still be restored. One person can’t do everything, but everyone can do one thing. I applaud Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, their partners, and volunteers for leading the charge and using technology to call upon the entire planet to help save the Reef – together.”


Agincourt Reef (c) @ikatere_photography


Spearheaded by Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, the first-ever Great Reef Census captured more than 13,000 survey images from across the 2,300km length of the GBR between October and December 2020. Hundreds of volunteer hours were committed from scientists, dive crew, tourists and conservation groups who reached and surveyed hundreds of reef sites from the tip of Cape York to the remote southern Swains.


Great Reef Census launch at the Cairns Marina (c) @ikatere_photography


More than 11,000 of these images have already been analyzed by people around the world from school kids to staff volunteer groups at Disney, Atlassian and Dell, but with only one week left until the project officially closes on April 30, the ambition is to rally the global ocean-loving community to analyze the remaining images. 

“We’re thrilled to partner with Mission Blue as Champions of the Great Barrier Reef Hope Spot,” said Andy Ridley, CEO Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef. “You can make a real contribution to the new Hope Spot today by joining this important citizen science project, no matter where you are in the world. You don’t need to be an expert — it’s simple, fun and will help scientists better understand how the Reef is changing year-on-year due to climate change.”


Fan coral (c) @ikatere_photography


The Champions’ aim is to scale up the Great Reef Census in late 2021 to survey even more reefs and demonstrate a scalable, 21st-century conservation model that can be exported to coral reefs across the globe.

In addition to the next Great Reef Census, other Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef projects include Reef Tracks, a marine life tracker launched on BBC’s Blue Planet Live, as well as an interactive Wikipedia-meets-YouTube guide to the Reef, Oceanpedia, launching in mid-2021.


Junior Citizens Of The Reef with Nickelodeon (c) Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef


The Hope Spot Champions partner with a range of organizations on the ground including the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, GBR Biology, MARS Sustainable Solutions, Reef Restoration Foundation, Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation, Coral Sea Foundation, James Cook University and Biopixel Oceans Foundation.

“We’re delighted to see the first Mission Blue Hope Spot declared on the Great Barrier Reef,” said Dr. Andy Lewis, Executive Director, Coral Sea Foundation. “The global recognition that comes with this declaration will serve to further highlight the unique World Heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef and the urgent actions that humanity needs to take to give this reef system a sustainable future.”


Members of the team (c) Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef


“Through innovative projects like the Great Reef Census, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef are building a network of citizen scientists both on and off the Reef to collect and analyze reef images,” said Katie Chartrand, Senior Researcher at James Cook University. “Their efforts are backed up by a team of experts to ensure the methods are scientifically sound. The impact of citizen science and applied research will become more and more important as we scale up conservation efforts on the Great Barrier Reef and marine ecosystems globally.”

Want to help protect the Great Barrier Reef Hope Spot without leaving home? Take part at greatreefcensus.org

Click here to dive into the interactive StoryMap!


Scientist Katie Chartrand diving (c) Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef


About Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef 

A 21st-century conservation organization for the Great Barrier Reef. Our collaborative team brings a diverse range of expertise, from the founder of global climate movement Earth Hour to award-winning developers, world-leading coral reef scientists, dive instructors, Emmy Award-winning cinematographers, shark experts, Traditional Owners and salty sea dogs who have dived the Reef for decades. We’re a broad church driven by our collective passion to protect the place we love for future generations Headquartered in Cairns, Australia – the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef – we use the beauty of the Reef as a point of inspiration to drive collaborative conservation projects on the ground and engage citizens around the world in the Reef’s future.


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