Eureka finals for citizen science reef protection project


Virtual Reef Diver Team (L-R): Bryce Christensen, Assoc Prof Erin Peterson, Distinguished Prof Kerrie Mengersen, Dr Julie Vercelloni

Harnessing the power of citizen science QUT's Virtual Reef Diver project has been recognised for its innovation and impact in this year's Eureka Prizes for scientific excellence.

The web-based project was among one of three finalists in the category for Innovation in Citizen Science, less than 12 months after it was launched to coincide the international year of the reef.

Virtual Reef Diver has captured the imagination of the public, resulting in more than 217,900 images classified online by citizen scientists.

The project involves citizens to actively contribute to monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef by using crowd-sourced images captured by recreational and professional divers, geo-located within a digital map.

The information is then used to help scientists to better understand where in the reef hard coral is increasing or decreasing.

Project leader, QUT Associate Professor, Erin Peterson (pictured second left) said the platform provided a unique opportunity for the public to get involved in science in a way they never could before.

“Using ground-breaking statistical analysis we combine the crowd sourced information with the existing monitoring and efforts to map the reef’s health and help protect Australia’s natural treasure,” said Erin, who is an Associate Investigator with ACEMS.

The project was developed at QUT’s Institute of Future Environments and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS).

The Australian Museum Eureka awards celebrate outstanding achievement in raising the profile of science and science engagement.


Winners of the Eureka Prizes were announced at the award dinner on Wednesday, August 28 at Sydney Town Hall. The winner for Innovation in Citizen Science was Frog ID, a project from the Australian Museum.



ACEMS Communications: Tim Macuga, 07 3138 6741