Reef Explorers Down Under


Reef Explorers Down Under. Our mission is to inspire people to gain a better understanding of the marine environment of the Great Southern Reef, the coastline that envelops the southern coast of Australia from Brisbane to Kalbarri. We aim to do this by developing and managing projects in which citizen scientists (that could be you!) engage with professional scientists on the ground, and underwater, to share skills and knowledge and to collect and analyse valuable scientific information.

We are providing a unique opportunity for our new group of citizen scientists to be involved in some groundbreaking research programs and surveys.

Whilst adhering to the basic principles for good scientific research, we adopt project designs which are simple, important, and allow for a broad range of people to be involved. There are underwater activities like photographing weedy seadragons and kelp, tending crayweed beds and recording biodiversity, plus useful tasks in the out-of-water office. Four of our main projects at Reef Explorers Down Under are listed below. 


Weedy seadragons are endemic to the GSR, and are a colourful, much-loved fish which depend on kelp. The Weedies Project has been set up to research and track populations of the species in order to conserve them. Divers are invited to photograph these unique creatures in a way that allows us to identify individual dragons using special "fingerprint" software. All you need is a camera, preferably a strobe, and a sense of adventure! 

Lead Scientists: Selma Klanten and David Booth



Weedy survey method sheet 
Fill out our Application


Kelp is essential for many processes in our temperate and sub-tropical marine ecosystems. It provides habitat (for weedy seadragons, for example), absorbs CO2 and produces oxygen, provides food for herbivores and buffers against storm impacts. Divers participating in this project will photograph and monitor the health of kelp in their chosen location. This may involve recording the extent of kelp cover, density and health of plants.

Lead Scientist: Alex Campbell


Kelp survey method sheet 
Fill out our Application



Crayweed was common in Sydney's waters until the 1970s, when vast underwater forests went missing. Many local fish, abalone, lobster and marine biodiversity went too. Scientists are working to restore Sydney's crayweed forests, but we need the help of volunteers to monitor and tend their local crayweed "gardens". By getting involved in project, you can help us reach a day when our crayweed forests are growing and reproducing without human intervention.

Project Run By: Operation Crayweed

Lead Scientist: Adriana Verges


Crayweed survey method sheet
Fill out our Application

Urchin Barrens


Urchin barrens form when certain species of sea urchin overgraze and clear an area of kelp forest. This process is assisted by climate change and other human stressors such as over-fishing. The urchin barren project aims to map and track the spread of barrens. We aim to ultimately understand how to prevent the spread of barrens, as once they are established it is difficult to restore kelp forests to their former state. 

Lead scientists:  Jordi Boada and Adriana Verges

Fill out our application


Back in 1966 the Underwater Research Group conducted a a series of surveys of Shiprock in Port Hacking. The documentation of this site by URG and subsequent submissions to government contributed to its gazettal as an Aquatic Reserve in 1982. Over 50 years later we aim to repeat this feat! It’s high time that we returned to re-record the biodiversity of this unique site, in a way that allows us to see what has changed. Divers involved in this project must be members of URG, and will learn how to do comprehensive underwater marine life surveys.

Project Run By: Underwater Research Group (URG) Sydney

Lead Scientist: John Turnbull

How to register
Fill out our Application