Recovery of the Great Barrier Reef

Ocean Health

Recovery of the Great Barrier Reef

Help Earthwatch scientists monitor the health of the coral reefs that form Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

Approximately 19% of the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed, with no immediate prospects of recovery.

You can play a key role in protecting tropical coral reefs from disease.

Coral diseases are among the most significant threats to tropical coral reef ecosystems. Approximately 19% of the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed, with no immediate prospects of recovery. An additional 15% are at risk of collapse from human pressure within the next 10 to 20 years, and a further 20% are under a longer-term threat of collapse.

The first outbreak of black band disease, a virulent disease that threatens reef corals worldwide, was observed in the Great Barrier Reef in 2006. A monitoring program has recorded recurring summer outbreaks, causing total collapse of susceptible types of coral. Many studies have linked the increasing impact of disease to global ocean warming, highlighting the urgent need for improved understanding of the biology and ecology of coral reefs under predicted climate change scenarios. Such knowledge is critical to enable reef managers to predict future disease consequences and develop appropriate strategies to control this emerging threat to coral health on the Great Barrier Reef.

Help conduct research to protect reef coral

Help to conduct reasearch to protect reef corals.

There is a gap in our knowledge of coral disease that represents a major stumbling block to developing management and conservation strategies. This expedition seeks to address this gap in order to ensure the development of better strategies for protecting Great Barrier Reef corals in the future.

About the research area

Magnetic Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Australia & South Pacific

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:

The Scientists


Research Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science

ABOUT David Bourne

Dr. David Bourne works with Earthwatch volunteers to study the health of corals in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.


Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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