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Reef Life Survey

The Reef Life Survey is an international community-based subtidal reef monitoring program.  The aim of the program is to improve biodiversity conservation and the sustainable management of marine resources. 

Divers assess subtidal reef habitats using visual census methods. To ensure the data obtained is of a high standard, divers are well-trained in all aspects of the methods. The resulting data can be used to address both spatial and temporal research questions.  Reef Life Survey has ensured that the data is freely available to the public, as well as managers, to promote broader community awareness of the status of Australia‚Äôs marine environment.   

Reef Life Survey was initiated by researchers at the University of Tasmania with start-up funding provided by the Commonwealth Environmental Research Facilities program.  Parks Victoria sits on the Reef Life Survey Advisory Committee and can use data obtained from surveys to inform management decisions. 

To date, surveys have occurred in a variety of MPAs including:

  • Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park
  • Point Hicks Marine National Park
  • Cape Howe Marine National Park
  • Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary
  • Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary

Data obtained from these sites can be compared with data obtained outside MPAs to provide valuable information on the effect of MPAs on the marine environment.  The results from surveys around Australia have indicated the MPAs have more large fish and total fish biomass than nearby fished reference sites.  The response of fish species richness varied between MPAs whilst invertebrate density and species richness were lower in MPAs. 

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Reef Life Survey