Family-owned tour company Passions of Paradise is deploying iBubble – the world’s first wireless and entirely autonomous underwater drone – to speed up its survey work on the Great Barrier Reef.
Passions of Paradise has become the first in Australia to purchase the drone in an effort to better catalogue their research work on the outer reefs off Cairns.
Passions of Paradise Environmental Manager Russell Hosp said the drone had been nicknamed Bumblebee as it could follow a diver without the ocean currents affecting it and had 360 degree sonar allowing it to avoid obstacles.
Hosp advises “funded by the Tourism Industry Activation and Reef Protection Initiative through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Bumblebee records the monitoring that Passions of Paradise divers do for the Eye on the Reef surveys.
“We log data on the corals and marine life we see during surveys so that changes in reef conditions are reported immediately.
“Video and photos of the areas surveyed are part of the reporting requirements and allow us a complete recording of our activities, which we can edit into exciting social media content.
“Bumblebee has been very useful in documenting the Coral Nurture Program, a partnership with the University of Technology Sydney where we grow broken fragments of coral on frames at Hastings Reef and then plant the new coral on damaged sections of the reef.”
Hosp adds “Passions has always been involved in research projects that help give our passengers a better understanding of the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.
“In the past five months we have done 60 Eye on the Reef surveys, almost 200 hours of research and planted more than 700 pieces of coral.
“In the future we hope to use the Bumblebee to analyse coral growth and local reef structure, and to record the impact of events such as Crown of Thorns outbreaks or cyclones.”
Passions of Paradise Chief Executive Scott Garden said there was a growing demand from visitors to the Great Barrier Reef to become involved in citizen science.
“Passengers choosing our certified carbon-neutral operation are very conscious of their environmental footprint and are keen to help the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.
“Each Friday we take small groups of up to eight experienced divers on an eco-experience where they can undertake Rapid Monitoring Survey Reports and monitor our coral planting.”
The Passions of Paradise fully-inclusive Reef Tour and Eco Experience is $399. For more information go to passions.com.au.
22nd June 2021 – UNESCO recommends Great Barrier Reef be listed as ‘in danger’
21st June 2021 – Great Barrier Reef Education Experience Program opens
28th April 2021 – Queensland Government rejects mine to protect Reef
17th March 2021 – Queensland Government extends fee relief for Cairns reef operators
22nd February 2021 – 17 marine tourism operators funded to monitor health of Great Barrier Reef
17th February 2021 – Great Barrier Reef’s D Grade highlights urgent action is required
30th September 2020 – Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority responds to illegal fishing on the Reef
16th June 2020 – Great Barrier Reef campaigners deliver message of Reef-safe recovery
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