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Tourism operators keeping an eye out for Crown-of-Thorns



Reef tourism operators in The Whitsundays will be trained in how the Reef Authority manages one of the greatest threats to the Great Barrier Reef – the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish.

Staff form a number of High Standard Tourism Operators from Port Douglas, Cairns and the Whitsundays are being trained in site monitoring as part of the Authority’s Eye on the Reef program this week.

Those in the Whitsundays region will also be taught how to cull the coral predator.

The Eye on the Reef program enables anyone who visits the Great Barrier Reef to contribute to its long-term protection by collecting valuable information about reef health, marine animals and incidents.

Project Manager, Paul Groves, said Reef tourism operators hold a strong connection to the Reef and share a passion for protecting it.

“Their livelihoods depend on the Reef. That’s why they are such great allies in achieving the Reef Authority’s vision to ensure a healthy Great Barrier Reef for future generations,” Mr Groves said.

“Crown-of-Thorns outbreaks are one of the three major causes of coral decline on the Reef, along with extreme weather events and coral bleaching. But unlike the others, COTS is the one major threat that can be addressed via tourism operations at their sites.

“During the sessions we will train tourism staff how to monitor the Reef for COTS as well as other reef health trends and threats. We aim to give them a better understanding of how the Authority manages COTS so we can work better together to protect the Reef.”

Site trend data and animal sightings collected through the Eye of the Reef program enables tourism operators to have a more intimate understanding of the reefs they visit and provide enriched interpretation of the Reef to their guests.

The information gathered by operators is collated by the Reef Authority and used to guide Marine Park management efforts.

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