Australian Marine Parks

Reef Life Survey links volunteer divers, scientists and managers in marine research and conservation.

Reef Life Survey Foundation

The Reef Life Survey Foundation is one of Parks Australia’s valued research providers.

Reef Life Survey volunteers have been conducting surveys in Australian Marine Parks since 2009.

Over 3,152 transects have been surveyed at 1,666 sites inside and surrounding Australian Marine Parks.

For some locations, these are the only ecological surveys that have ever been done.

The products and outputs from RLS, including the establishment of national shallow reef baselines within our marine parks, help inform marine park managers and stakeholders about marine life and if there are changes occurring over time.

Reef Life Survey is a unique collaboration of professional scientists working alongside citizen volunteers.

Its mission is to provide high quality, unbiased and publicly available information that is used to better inform management, policy and build public knowledge on the status of reefs.


Reef Life Survey divers use a standard method to survey:

  • habitats
  • invertebrates
  • cryptic fish
  • mobile fish.

Shrimp hiding from the view of a Reef Life Survey diver Shrimp hiding from the view of a Reef Life Survey diver. Photo by Reef Life Survey

Using a consistent methodology ensures data are comparable on a regional, national and international scales and that Parks Australia can use it to inform management decisions.

The data generated from these surveys provide us with information on the condition of shallow reefs (as baselines). Where these surveys are repeated we generate information on any changes in condition over time (trends).

These results can be found in reports prepared by the network, many of which can be found on our scientific publications page. 

Citizen science

Reef Life Survey provides a great example of scientifically robust citizen science occurring across many of the shallow reefs within Australian Marine Parks.

They are the only citizen science organisation routinely operating within our parks. They provide repeated and consistent monitoring information for park managers.

Reef Life Survey data and findings also contribute to national state of the environment reporting.

For more information please visit the Reef Life Survey website.