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Matt Curnock

Collaborative Monitoring

In 2022 and 2023, the Hub network supported a new collaborative monitoring pilot project at Moore Reef off the coast of Cairns on Gunggandji Sea Country. The project brought together a range of partners to design and trial monitoring of a new assisted coral recovery technique. Our team included the Gunggandji Traditional Owners of the area, the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP) scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), GBR Biology, Reef Restoration Foundation and James Cook University’s TropWATER as the Reef Hub coordinator.

The new coral seeding devices engineered by AIMS are a home for young corals, which take corals collected at site and spawned in the lab, back to the reef. The aim is to improve the survival of young corals to help repopulate damaged reefs. The devices are designed to be mass producible, for rapidly replenishing reefs after a major coral loss event (e.g. cyclone, marine heatwave). As coral seeding is relatively new, several designs are being developed, tested, and improved.


Matt Curnock

Local partners were interested in learning more about the new devices, and in deepening their understanding of coral recruitment patterns. AIMS and CSIRO researchers were keen to apply local knowledge and skills to tailor how devices were deployed now and in the future. During our training days at Moore Reef, AIMS taught us how to deploy and monitor the devices. We also trialled a survey to better understand substrate suitability for coral recruitment.


Through the pilot we engaged with the Traditional Owners of Moore Reef to learn about sea country values and collect information with Rangers and community members. We undertook an information session in community about this work and Traditional Owners participated in the training day at Moore Reef to help shape the design of the project and build new skills.

After the initial training and development phase, a new opportunity to trial devices was identified. AIMS worked with GBR Biology at the Reef Magic Pontoon and with Reef Restoration Foundation at the Sunlover pontoon on Moore Reef to design an additional experiment. It is evaluating the viability of newly engineered coral seeding devices.

As part of this project, we have deployed the devices with recently settled baby corals (spawned in December 2022) around the pontoons to understand how effective they are in rubble habitats. Local partners will be monitoring this experiment and collecting data over the coming year to help inform decisions about future deployment activities, including CSIRO learning about Reef visitor’s perceptions of the devices when they visit the Reef.

This research contributes to a growing body of international study and complements other ongoing work at Moore Reef being carried out by partners. The project has been a great opportunity for local partners to apply their skills and knowledge to contribute to this study, and connect with, and learn from scientists to further build local capacity and methods for reef recovery actions.

“Working together is critical if we are to assist the Reef to adapt in a changing environment.”

Reef Restoration Foundation CEO Ryan Donnelly

Who we are

A place-based initiative to strategically enhance, empower and connect the efforts of diverse local organisations to support the Great Barrier Reef, resulting in transformative benefit.

What we do

  1. Build a skilled network

  2. Facilitate collaborative, practical reef science

  3. Champion local voices

Outcomes we support

  • Strengthen collective capacity to care for local reefs and benefit the community

  • Identify critical gaps in Reef knowledge and practices, and drive solutions that benefit partners and the wider sector

  • Shine a light on local efforts and build partnerships

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