Mapping the Great Barrier Reef

UQ Digital Content Producer Matthew Taylor and Senior Communications Officer Katie Rowney travelled to Heron Island with a team of researchers to learn more about the work taking place at the research station. Read the first in this series here, the second here, and the third here.

Growing up in a country known more for its canals and dykes than its corals hasn’t stopped UQ’s Dr Chris Roelfsema from developing a mission to protect the Great Barrier Reef. It’s more than 15,000 kilometres from the Netherlands to Heron Island, but Chris’s dedication to diving led him from chilly European climes to the coral cay, where he works  to map the Great Barrier Reef so it can be better managed.

video by Matthew Taylor, footage by Chris Roelfsema and Matthew Taylor

Chris learned to dive in cold, dark lakes in the Netherlands, where he was lucky to spot a single fish in the murky depths. When he finally dived at a coral reef in Jamaica he was amazed at the vibrancy and diversity of coral and fish. It wasn't until he studied a post-graduate diploma at UQ that he realised the Jamaican reef was badly degraded.

Chris Roelfsema enters the water near Harry's Buoy off the south beach of Heron Island
Dr Chris Roelfsema enters the water near Harry's Buoy off the south beach of Heron Island - footage by Matthew Taylor

Chris has been travelling to Heron Island for the past 15 years, using field-data to capture the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. His research aims to map coral reefs so that governments and marine authorities can make informed decisions about managing these natural wonders. He uses satellite and remote camera images and field data to track what’s on the reef and how it’s changing over time. Chris works with a team of scientists, divers and researchers from many different agencies, but it’s a big job and there are ways for the public to help.

video by Matthew Taylor, footage by Chris Roelfsema and Matthew Taylor

Last updated:
26 May 2016