Recovery of the Great Barrier Reef

Ocean Health

Recovery of the Great Barrier Reef

Help Earthwatch scientists in active recovery efforts on 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 part in helping corals recover from the multitude of human-induced threats they face.

Coral reefs provide habitat for fish, coastal protection, and have biodiversity that is almost unparalleled on land. And yet coral reefs are under threat like never before. Coral bleaching, damage from cyclones, and nutrient run-off leading to Crown-of-Thorn sea star outbreaks 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.

In previous Recovery of the Great Barrier Reef expeditions held on Orpheus Island, researchers studied coral disease and how corals recolonized an area after being destroyed by cyclone Yasi in 2011. This has played a fundamental role in our understanding of natural (on non-human assisted) recovery processes of coral reefs.

Now, reef managers and scientists know that we must play an active role in helping coral reefs recover, however controversy exists as to how best do this. Many individual inshore reefs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park have faced several ecological disturbances (storms damage, bleaching, etc.) and are now dominated by non-coral organism like macroalgae. Magnetic Island is representative of many of these reefs, and therefore makes an excellent study site to understand how our efforts of active restoration might best be undertaken.

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, Queensland, Australia, 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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