PASSION FOR THE REEF: Great Barrier Reef Master Reef Guide Natalie Lobartolo.
PASSION FOR THE REEF: Great Barrier Reef Master Reef Guide Natalie Lobartolo.

New program: Spend the day as a marine biologist

BRIDGING the gap between tourism and conservation for everyone, Master Reef Guide Natalie Lobartolo is excited to announce the launch of the Marine Biologist For A Day program, just in time for the school holidays.

She said the initiative would enable everyday people to become involved in simple science, but science that can be used in marine park management and reef health.

She said there was two citizen science programs involved, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Eye on the Reef program and UQ’s Coral Watch program and you don’t have to be a scientist or degree to participate.

Ms Lobartolo said these programs were an intricate part particularly when managing issues like rezoning or responding to threats.

One particular example of the value of citizen science is tackling outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish.

“Through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authorities sightings app you can make sightings when you see a crown-of-thorns starfish … recently there was a small outbreak on Lady Musgrave Island, they have sent the (control) team there and they are on to it,” she said.

“So it’s a really cool example of adaptive management.”

Ms Lobartolo said the program was adaptable to cater for people as young as six-years-old and opportunities to go more in-depth for adults.

Part of the project is to develop an example and standard or other tourism operators on the reef — “hopefully, based on it’s success, we should be a leading example in sustainable tourism”.

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