Volunteers dive deep to help monitor SA’s marine parks

Date posted: 27 March 2017

Hon Ian Hunter MLC

Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation

A world-renowned citizen science programme has been adopted in South Australia to improve monitoring of the State’s underwater reefs within our world-class marine parks network.

Over the weekend, 10 volunteer divers took part in a citizen science expedition in Encounter Marine Park, off the coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, gathering data to help improve knowledge and ensure long-term protection of our reefs.

The Reef Life Survey invites volunteer recreational scuba divers to collect environmental monitoring data for use by researchers and scientists.

To find out more about the programme visit the Reef Life Survey website. To express interest in volunteering in future expeditions call DEWNR’s Marine Parks team on 8124 4899.


South Australia has large areas of intertidal, shallow and deep-water limestone and granite reefs. These and other reefs along our coast form part of the larger Great Southern Reef that significantly contributes to the state’s economy through recreation, tourism and commercial uses.

Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) marine scientists use the Reef Life Survey method as normal practice to monitor South Australia’s reefs. The new collaboration with volunteers will increase the amount of data collected and improve knowledge to help protect reefs.

In 2008 the University of Tasmania developed the Reef Life Survey volunteer programme to provide training to recreational scuba divers to collect data on reefs around the world.

The volunteer programme has grown to be one of the most successful international marine citizen science programmes in the world. It has been used to survey over 2500 sites in more than 50 countries and is the winner of the 2014 Australian Museum Eureka Science Award.

South Australia’s Reef Life Survey volunteer programme is supported by DEWNR, Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges and the University of Tasmania.

Quotes attributable to Environment Minister Ian Hunter

The weekend expedition by the Reef Life Survey volunteer programme in Encounter Marine Park is the start of a long-term collaboration between government and community to help monitor the ecological performance of our state’s world-class marine parks network.

Adopting the citizen science programme gives South Australia access to leading international scientists and comparable datasets on a global scale, allowing us to better interpret local changes in our unique marine environment.

On top of improving our local reef knowledge, the volunteer programme promotes marine advocates, creating a volunteer community to better understand and care for the condition of underwater reefs locally and worldwide.

It is also an opportunity for local scuba divers to gain new skills and participate in expeditions all over the world to ensure marine biodiversity data is recorded accurately and consistently.