Location: Great Barrier Reef
Eye on the Reef, Great Barrier Reef
February 19 - February 24AUD $695
Welcome to Eye on the Reef!
Join us in the Great Barrier Reef Islands and do your part to protect our oceans. You will be trained to conduct scientific monitoring surveys around the Cumberland Island reefs, to monitor ecosystem health and diversity of marine fauna and flora.
You’ll also be on the lookout for threats to the reef such as crown of thorns starfish infestations and coral bleaching events.
The information you collect gives researchers and government bodies invaluable insights into the state of the reef. This then informs management plans for future protection. This program is run in collaboration with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and CoralWatch, based at the University of Queensland.
Is this trip right for you?
We need enthusiastic adventurers to join our highly-experienced Project Leaders in this unique survey project. You’ll need to be a comfortable snorkeler. But you don’t need to be a superfish! We will provide full training for those who need a little practice. Participants must be at least 18 years of age.
You’ll camp on tropical white sand beaches, explore spectacular marine ecosystems, enjoy the company of like-minded people and learn stacks along the way.
January/February is also peak season for nesting and hatching sea turtles, as well as for seeing migratory shorebirds and bush birds from Cape York, Torres Strait and New Guinea.
A day in the field:
Typically, half your day is dedicated to surveying the reef, and half the day playing, relaxing and exploring.
7.00am: Breakfast on our boat the Wild Cat. A selection of cereals, toasts, eggs and fruits to get you fuelled for the day ahead.
8.00am: Daily briefing.
8.15am-12pm: Reef surveys. We will work for about 4 hours a day doing in-water surveys. Surveys need to be conducted at various times of the day to account for travel time in between sites as well as tides, weather conditions and marine life activity.
10.00am: A quick break for a morning cuppa.
1.00pm: Lunch with the team on the Wild Cat, home-cooked by our Project Leaders (who are also culinary experts!). We can cater to a range of dietary requirements.
1.45pm–5pm: Time for snorkelling, swimming, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, exploring the islands and soaking up the spectacular surrounds.
5.00pm: Drinks and nibbles on Wild Cat.
6.00pm: Dinner with a group meeting and discussion. We always say our dinners “take you around the world in the week”. Some of our signature dishes include an Aussie BBQ, Indian Rogan Josh, Indonesian Nasi Goreng and a Mexican fiesta!
We are a not-for-profit conservation organisation first and foremost. The costs involved in our trips cover our expenses and small overheads. Any profit we make goes right back into our conservation programs.
Travel from Mackay Marina to the islands on our boat Wild Cat (about 2–4 hours)
All food for the trip, home-cooked by your Project Leader
Use of all work and play equipment (snorkels, wetsuits, kayaks, paddleboards etc)
All camping gear and swags (please bring your own sleeping bag)
Alcohol is not included, but please feel free to bring along your own for daily “sundowners” and nibbles on Wild Cat
There is no accommodation on the islands. We will set up camp in tents or on Wild Cat. We will often stay on more than one island in the group
There is no electricity on the islands. We do have a generator on board for charging important items
There are no shops or laundry facilities on the islands
There is very limited phone and internet reception for some carriers. Wild Mob carries a satellite phone for emergencies only
Camping toilets are available. There is a flushing saltwater macerator toilet on board Wild Cat
Showers on Wild Cat are available but limited
Our reef monitoring surveys are done in collaboration with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)’s assessment program Eye on the Reef, as well as the University of Queensland’s not-for-profit citizen science organisation CoralWatch.
The Eye on the Reef program empowers everyone to contribute to the ongoing protection of the reef by collecting vital information about reef health, animals and incidents.
It provides Marine Park managers and researchers with up-to-date data on reef health status and trends, species distribution, and early warnings of environmental impacts like Coral Bleaching or COTS outbreak.
CoralWatch uses the Coral Health Chart as a simple, non-invasive method for the monitoring of coral bleaching and the assessment of coral health. In the field, users compare colours of corals with colours on the chart and record matching codes.
Data is then loaded into the CoralWatch database, which collects information from more than 78 countries. This gives researchers a true picture of what’s going on around our reefs on a global scale.
Some homework required!
You will need to complete GBRMPA’s Eye on the Reef Rapid Monitoring Survey online training program prior to the trip. The program has 6 training modules to get you prepped. Each module takes up to 30 minutes to complete. We will send you a link to the program on sign up.
You’ll undertake a practical component of the program and snorkelling training on Wild Cat during the first few days of the trip. Once you’ve successfully completed the online and practical component, you’ll start undertaking rapid monitoring surveys.
Learn more about the program below.
Sal Stutsel, Wild Mob Project Leader
Sal has a degree in Environmental Science and a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management, through CQ University, Rockhampton. She has developed many successful small business projects in rural communities over the years, all underpinned by an environmental, ethical and sustainable philosophy. Read more…
Derek Ball, Wild Mob Project Leader
Derek grew up a long way from the coast in the dust of outback Australia but a trip to the Great Barrier Reef when he was six fostered a love of the sea that would shape the rest of his life. Passionate with everything about the sea he pursued a Bachelor Degree followed by a PhD in marine biology and zoology. Read more…
What to pack:
1 large backpack (better than a suitcase as you will be required to carry your luggage at times)
1 small backpack (for daytime activities)
1 sleeping bag (swags and mats are provided)
1 pair of thick working pants (to protect against scratches from plants and insects. We recommend something thicker than yoga pants, like jeans)
1 or more pairs of long working shirts and trousers (to protect against scratches from plants, insect bites and the sun)
Wet weather clothing (a lightweight jacket with a hood is perfect)
Warm clothes (it can get a little chilly at night, a fleece, wind stopper or sweater is ideal)
1 pair of walking or hiking boots with strong soles (for hiking and working in thick bushland)
1 pair of CLOSED shoes with strong soles that can get wet. (For walking across sharp reef beds. Crocs or reef shoes made out of wetsuit material are great)
1 pair of sandals, thongs or flip-flops
1 pair of swimmers (wetsuits are provided)
1 pair of sunglasses
1 hat (wide-brimmed for plenty of shade is best)
1 personal drink bottle (a total minimum 2 litres is best)
Personal medication and toiletries.
Sunscreen (highest protection factor you can get)
Insect repellent (preferably biodegradable)
Torch and spare batteries (w’d opt for a head torch)
Plenty of casual clothing (t-shirts, tops, shorts, socks, underwear and anything else you think you may need for the week)
Any personal medication and medical equipment (please note there is no access to pharmacies on the islands)
Camera and spare batteries
1 small pillow or pillowcase to put your jumper in
Binoculars to spot wildlife (optional)
Things for free time (books, cards, music etc)
Mackay Marina Village, Mackay Marina Office
Mulherin Drive, Mackay Harbour, QLD
Start date: Monday 19/02/2018 at 7:00 am
End date: Friday 24/02/2018 at approximately 1:00 pm
If you are travelling to Mackay, we strongly suggest arriving the day before and leaving the day after the trip. The weather, tides or other circumstances outside our control can sometimes cause delays coming back into the marina. We can recommend a range of accommodation options in Mackay.
If you suffer from seasickness, please pack appropriate medications and let our project leaders know in advance. The trip to the islands can be a little rough! Learn more about seasickness and easy ways to prevent it here.
Secure your spot on this trip with a $100 deposit by clicking Book Now. We’ll then be in touch with everything you need to get ready for your expedition.
Read our trip Terms and Conditions.
What our volunteers are saying
The crew were amazing and so knowledgable. The boat and camping experience was incredible. As were and animals and scenery we experienced.Sarah
Wild Mob is instrumental in conservation in Australia. Working with them was a real privilege. Knowing that what you’re doing is having an impact, and seeing that impact as you work made my time with them a real highlight!Michael
The most interesting thing I learnt was about myself. Having grown up in a city surrounded by technology, I learnt how dependent we are upon our technology. Being on an island away from phone reception or internet, I found that it was simply a desire as opposed to a necessity.Briodie
The work we were doing is going to have a real, valuable impact.Aly
Working with Wild Mob was incredible! Being able to get real hands-on experience and learning how conservation works in the real world has been eye opening. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.Thanuri