The Whitsunday Water Quality Monitoring Blueprint for Tourism Operators project aims to increase understanding of water quality and reef health in the Whitsundays.
Tourism operators in the Whitsundays have begun collecting data in this citizen science project to keep track of the water quality in their area. This project extends on existing marine monitoring programs in the Whitsundays by collecting data at two of the key tourism locations in the area.
The tourism community has a vested interest in the long-term health and functionality of the Great Barrier Reef, and they are well-positioned and willing to lead solution-based monitoring, and effectively communicate water quality results.
Water quality is one of the Whitsunday tourism industry’s ongoing challenges. At peak times our region carries more visitation to the Great Barrier Reef than any other on the east Australian coast, so it is vital we understand what is happening at our inshore island reefs.
Establishing baseline data through this water quality monitoring project will empower us to make the best possible management decisions for the benefit of the environment, a sustainable tourism industry, and the one million visitors a year we welcome to our section of the Great Barrier Reef.
Sharon Smallwood, executive secretary of the WCBIA.
Four participating tourism operators have been trained by scientists from James Cook University (JCU) in how to take water quality samples. The program method builds on the extensive water quality monitoring that JCU has been undertaking over many years with North Queensland Bulk Ports across three ports in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Tourism operators, JCU, Reef Catchments and the Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association deployed two loggers on 4 February 2020. Tourism operators will maintain data loggers and take water quality samples every four weeks until the project ends in June 2021.
Participating tourism operators are Ocean Rafting, Red Cat Adventures, True Blue Sailing, and Southern Cross Sailing Adventures. We also thank Coral Sea Marina and South Pacific Yachting for their assistance.