Travellers can help to protect the Great Barrier Reef with the launch of new tours

Want to find your inner marine biologist or citizen scientist? Take part in these Great Barrier Reef tours – both in the water and above the surface – and you'll be making a difference on your travels...

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Several years ago, many believed the Great Barrier Reef was a lost cause. Pictures of coral bleaching topped news pages, and episodes of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet highlighted the devastating speed of which these underwater habitats were turning to ruins.

In years to follow, scientists and marine biologists searched for ways to save the Great Barrier Reef, and the results have been astounding. From conducting vital surveys to growing coral nurseries, the hope for the UNESCO World Heritage Site has been restored thanks to ingenious regeneration projects.

Now, you can also help make a difference. Whether you want to get close to the action with reef recovery diving, or learn about the groundbreaking programmes taking place above the surface, we've found the newest tours and experiences to get involved with.

Visit a living coral biobank

The living biobank can be found in the Cairns Aquarium (Forever Reef Project)

The living biobank can be found in the Cairns Aquarium (Forever Reef Project)

Did you know, there are 415 different species of coral found in the Great Barrier Reef? Of course, global warming now threatens the potential extinction of these species, which can be catastrophic for the survival of the 25% of marine life the reef ecosystem supports. However, the Forever Reef Project intends to protect as many of these as possible for future generations with its living coral biobank facility – a world first. Located at the Cairns Aquarium in North Queensland, visitors can donate to the project and in return, have a 30-minute educational tour of the ‘coral ark’, where 181 Great Barrier Reef coral specimens have so far been preserved. Donations go towards the continuations of the project, including the collection, processing and preservation of coral.

Take part in reef recovery

Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel operate in Hastings Reef (Alamy Stock Photo)

Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel operate in Hastings Reef (Alamy Stock Photo)

Although it’s easy to opt for a snorkelling excursion in the Great Barrier Reef, there are now tours available where you can get hands on and be a part of its restoration. Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel have launched Reef Recover Days, where travellers can discover their inner marine biologist. Beyond the threat of rising ocean temperatures, coral reefs are also damaged by other extreme weather, such as storms and tropical cyclones. On this diving tour, you will join a team of eco-diving experts to visit these damaged areas around Hastings Reef, and assist in installing MARS Reef Stars: steel structures which provide a strong foundation for coral to grow. The five-hour day also includes educational talks on these important reef regeneration initiatives. The Reef Discover Day are usually offered just once a month, so places are limited. Alternatively, highly-praised Passions of Paradise run similar programmes. 

Choose sustainable scuba diving

Tusa Reef Tours have received ECO certification (PhilipVids)

Tusa Reef Tours have received ECO certification (PhilipVids)

For those who do simply want to explore the wonderful underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, choosing an organisation with an ECO Certification will ensure you’re doing so in a sustainable way. Cairns-based operator Tusa Reef Tours is one of the latest operators to receive such accreditation after it recently remodelled itself to ensure they are leading responsible diving and snorkelling excursions and leaving minimal impact on the environment. Their scuba diving trips take less than 40 people out to various dive sites, with up to eight marine experts to guide you around the reefs. Newbies can also get involved and join an Introductory Scuba Diving session.

Help from home

Want to be a citizen scientist but can't make the trip to Queensland just yet? Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef collects thousands of images of the reef every year, and asks you to help analyse them. So wherever you are in the world, you can assist scientists in identifying how the reef is changing, so they can manage the risks to this fragile ecosystem. Log on to to take part.

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