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Dear members, supporters, and friends of the Coral Sea Foundation, welcome to the latest edition of Coral Sea News! We are excited to share some of the highlights of our marine conservation work around the Great Barrier Reef and Papua New Guinea over the first half of 2023. 

Empowering Indigenous Women: the Sea Women Great Barrier Reef Training Program

The Coral Sea Foundation team delivered the first Sea Women Great Barrier Reef training program during April and May this year, and we are delighted to share some insights with you. This program brought together eight First Nations women from North Queensland, Zenadth Kes (Torres Straits Islands), and Papua New Guinea, and empowered them with the essential marine science skills and knowledge they need to champion sustainable marine resource management and conservation within their own communities.

Over seven weeks, the participants received hands-on training in scuba diving, small boat driving, practical first aid, GPS navigation, reef fish and coral identification, photographic reef survey methods, and reef image analysis. Equipped with these skills, they are now much better placed to become more involved with marine conservation in their traditional sea country.

Equally important, the ladies were able to share life stories and the knowledge of cultural practices around the use of sea country, which is essential to building the international network of Sea Women around the Coral Sea arc which we envisage as the ultimate goal of this program. The Coral Sea Foundation team also gained valuable insights into the most appropriate methods of delivering this type of pragmatic training, ensuring that future programs will deliver even better outcomes for the participants.

We are very proud of the dedication and progress made by the Sea Women participants. Check out this clip on our YouTube channel to experience some of the special moments captured during the program at Yunbenun (Magnetic Island) and Goolboddi (Orpheus Island). 

Through the program five First Nations women representing Papua New Guinea, Zenadth Kes (Torres Straits Islands), and North Queensland also completed their Open Water scuba certification. 

Celebrating their achievement, they embarked on a dive to explore the Moltke shipwreck in Geoffrey Bay, guided by Pleasure Divers Magnetic Island. Scuba diving certification marks a significant milestone for these women and with this new skill under their belts, they are better equipped to undertake marine conservation work within their sea country.

Another exciting outcome of the training program was that it was recently featured on ABC 730 Report and reached over 800,000 viewers. The segment shines a spotlight on our program and highlights the inspiring journey of our Sea Women, who are deeply passionate about learning how to protect and preserve marine ecosystems. Take a dive into our coverage here: ABC 730 Report Video, ABC News Article, and ABC Pacific Live Broadcast Radio.

As we continue our mission to raise awareness of the value of the Great Barrier Reef and the wider Coral Sea arc, we invite you to join us in making a difference. Your donation will enable us to expand our training programs and empower more Indigenous women to become involved in marine conservation and caring for sea country.


Sea Women of Melanesia  – Papua New Guinea Operations Update

We are thrilled to announce that the Sea Women of Melanesia have secured a significant three-year grant from Steamships Trading Company Ltd. This generous multi-year funding will enable the Sea Women to expand their operations in Papua New Guinea by providing better offices, more training opportunities and essential marine science equipment for the regional teams of women.

This grant is a game-changer for the Sea Women of Melanesia because it provides the surety of funding needed to plan the expansion of the organisation. Rapid expansion is needed to meet the ever-increasing requests for marine conservation support from coastal villages in PNG, who are coming to recognise that establishing Locally Managed Marine Areas supports sustainable fisheries and brings benefit to the community.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Steamships Trading Company Ltd for their support in helping the Sea Women of Melanesia achieve their mission objectives.

Insights from Ferguson Island: Coral Bleaching Report

Our Sea Women of Melanesia-PNG team leader, Lorie Pipiga, has provided crucial information about coral bleaching on Ferguson Island in Papua New Guinea. Since mid-October 2022, a persistent hot spot has affected the Solomon Sea, causing elevated temperatures that breached the bleaching threshold until December.

On January 13th, 2023, Lorie collected monitoring imagery from the reefs in the Nua Marine Reserve Network. These underwater images provide tangible evidence of the ongoing bleaching event, depicting bleached and recently deceased corals. The visual documentation highlights the challenges faced by this fragile ecosystem. However, some corals remained unbleached, suggesting potentially increased heat tolerance since the previous bleaching event in early 2021.

Lorie’s journey emphasizes the dedication and commitment of our Sea Women of Melanesia-PNG team. Their efforts enable us to understand the status and challenges facing the remote reefs of the eastern Coral Triangle.

Collaboration agreement with the National Maritime Safety Authority of PNG

We are happy to announce that an official Memorandum of Understanding between the Sea Women of Melanesia Inc. & the National Maritime Safety Authority of Papua New Guinea was signed on the 8th of May 2023.

This partnership facilitates collaboration between the two organizations to achieve mutually desirable marine conservation outcomes including the development of Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA’s) and the assessment of vessel grounding incidents and subsequent reef rehabilitation. Present at the signing were SWoM Director Gou Ava, member Bianca Beri, and the Executive Manager of Maritime Operations for the NMSA Captain Krzysztof Orlowski.

Collaboration with AIMS on the Pacific Coral Reef Monitoring Framework

The Coral Sea Foundation and the Sea Women of Melanesia have signed a partnership agreement with the Australian Institute of Marine Science to help develop the Pacific Coral Reef Monitoring Framework. Over a series of workshops in Samoa and Australia, the SWoM Directors will work with AIMS, SPREP, and other stakeholders to develop a new protocol for monitoring Pacific coral reefs, which includes the latest ReefCloud image analysis technology as well as incorporating Indigenous knowledge in the design of reef monitoring programs for coastal communities.

The SWoM and Sea Women GBR teams attended a two-day workshop at AIMS in late May to develop strategies for the upcoming international Pacific Coral Reef Monitoring Framework meeting in Apia, Samoa in late July. This international meeting will be attended by SWoM Directors Gou Ava, Naomi Longa, Kerryanne Molai, and Jacinta Jonathan.

The Magnetic Island Reef Monitoring Project – Open for Participation

The coral reefs of Magnetic Island are numerous and diverse, ranging from the turbid water assemblages on the western and northern side of the island to the clear water reefs of the north-eastern beaches, and the coral communities growing directly on the rocky shores that line most of the island.

Surveys and reef monitoring activities have been undertaken here, off and on, for many decades, at least since the late 1980s, and several of our senior marine science associates have been involved in that work.

However, given the size of the island and its 40km of coastline, only a small fraction of the marine environment has been surveyed, and an even smaller proportion has been actively monitored repeatedly through time.

Magnetic Island Reef Monitoring Project provides a framework that allows anybody with an underwater camera to contribute scientifically useful information on the status of the reefs around the island.

Time-series images of the same piece of reef are a very powerful tool to convey information about reef dynamics, and from a scientific point of view, they are essential to make accurate assessments of reef condition. GPS and geotagging digital camera technology now make it very easy to relocate and re-photograph reef sites in a non-intrusive way that does not damage the reef surface.

It is particularly easy to photograph the same site if distinct natural features such as massive coral rocks are used to identify the survey area. We have discovered and mapped a network of these natural features at a series of sites, right around the island, wherever reefs are growing, and now we would like you to help us by using your own camera to continue the monitoring work!

This will provide valuable reef condition information to the island community, the traditional owners, and management agencies, as well as provide an ongoing framework for citizen scientists to participate directly in the collection of photo-monitoring data around Magnetic Island, one of the most accessible reefs on the GBR.

For more information about our Magnetic Island Reef Monitoring Project, including survey methods and site locations, visit our website.


Dive into the Future of Reef Monitoring with ReefCloud

The Coral Sea Foundation pioneered the use of geotagging underwater camera technology for reef monitoring through the development of our Locally Managed Marine Area Survey methods for the Sea Women of Melanesia teams in PNG.

As a natural extension of this methodology, we have been early adapters and testers of the ReefCloud system – an innovative digital tool developed by the Australian Institute of Marine Science that harnesses artificial intelligence to analyse and share data from images of coral reefs anywhere in the world.

ReefCloud can analyse different types of corals in survey imagery with 80-90 percent accuracy and 700 times faster than traditional methods of assessment.

On the Educational Resources page of our website we have created a series of training links that will assist our members and volunteers become familiar with the ReefCloud system, so that they can help us analyse the growing number of reef survey images coming in from our regional teams.

Please check the following links for the ReefCloud Label ID Guide and our tutorial videos which provide step-by-step instructions to help you work with the ReefCloud system.

New Vessels: Partnership Opportunities Await!

The Coral Sea Foundation is setting sail on an exciting journey with our Coral Sea Vessel Development program, and we want YOU to be a part of it!

We are inviting individuals and organizations to join our eco-friendly sailing catamaran project, which aims to support marine science, reef conservation, and our Sea Women training programs, while extending the geographic scope of our operations further into the Coral Sea Arc.

Partnership opportunities are available for stakeholders interested in driving clean energy innovation, protecting reefs, and empowering First Nations people. By partnering with us, you’ll contribute to a sustainable ocean future and gain recognition as a supporter of this transformative initiative.

Click here to explore the Coral Sea Vessel Development program. You can also donate to support marine conservation and help us achieve our goals. Together, we can make a meaningful impact and protect the outstanding reefs of this region for future generations.


Raise a Glass: Our Tropical Lager Takes Home Three Design Awards

We are thrilled to announce that our Tropical Lager Coral’ation (TLC) has received three prestigious can design awards, including Global Crushie, at the Craft Beer Marketing Awards 2023.

We congratulate Matt Bray and the Art.Disrupt team for their creative excellence in designing our award-winning cans. We also extended our appreciation to The Good Beer Co. and Sobah Beverages for their valuable contributions in bringing the special edition to life. Together, their efforts have resulted in a truly remarkable product that stands out in the craft beer world.

TLC also carries a significant purpose. By enjoying this delicious and refreshing beer, you directly contribute to our Sea Women Great Barrier Reef training program, empowering First Nations women and supporting reef conservation efforts.

To learn more about this award-winning beer and order your own supply click here.

Dive into the March 2023 Reef Survey: Yunbenun (Magnetic Island)

During our late-summer reef monitoring surveys around Magnetic Island, we were blessed with exceptional underwater visibility of 10-12m, which provided us with great views of the reef.

The footage we obtained showcases the thriving coral communities and abundant marine life surrounding the island. With approximately 650 monitoring images recorded, we now have a comprehensive snapshot of the coral cover around the island, and our team will be analysing the data in the pictures using the AIMS ReefCloud system.

We welcome volunteers who are interested in assisting with the analysis of our extensive monitoring imagery. Reach out to us today and become part of our mission!


Coral Sea Foundation has a new website

The Coral Sea Foundation is excited to announce the launch of our new website. This update is all about enhancing our initiatives, projects, and conservation efforts while highlighting our valuable partnerships.

Explore interactive maps, and engaging multimedia content that brings our conservation stories to life, giving you a firsthand look at the incredible work we do.

Stay up to date with the latest news and developments by signing up for our newsletter. Be the first to receive updates on our conservation projects, valuable partnerships, and opportunities to get involved.

Thank you!

The Coral Sea Foundation team encourages you to explore the different sections of our website to learn more about our initiatives and actively engage in our conservation efforts.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or inquiries you may have. We look forward to hearing from you.