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Great Barrier Reef’s latest news

Future expeditions

Expedition far north 2019

After a successful Far Northern Great Barrier Reef trip in 2018, Aroona is planning planning the next years trips to the far north in March, April and May 2019. More details below. North east Great Barrier Reef Australia Expedition 2019 This is your chance to explore...

Minke Whale Season 2018- 2019

This year's Dwarf Minke season is almost over. We have limited dates available for full boat charters in July 2018 or book your 2019 trip of a lifetime. Come and swim face to face with the most curious whale on the planet! This is an experience of a lifetime when a...

Whitsundays August 2019

Located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef on the Queensland coast, lie 74 island wonders. The majority of the Whitsunday Islands are uninhabited national parks, with the Great Barrier Reef and fringing coral reefs at their doorstep. In August 2019 Aroona will be...


Aroona proud to be supporting a project to harvest millions of coral eggs and sperm to grow new coral larvae that will be released to help restore damaged parts of the Great Barrier Reef


The Reef reborn, JCU brings coral larval restoration to Cairns
Four-year-old breeding Acropora coral colonies grown from larvae in the Philippines restoration site. Image: Peter Harrison

James Cook University’s Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER) in Cairns is partnering on a project to harvest millions of coral eggs and sperm to grow new coral larvae that will be released to help restore damaged parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

Senior Research Officer, Katie Chartrand is leading JCU’s involvement in the project. She said the eggs and sperm will be combined in enclosures on the reef and in tanks to produce the larvae.

“After we have grown the larvae they will be released onto degraded coral areas off Cairns. The idea is to rapidly increase the rate of successful recruitment of new corals in damaged parts of the reef.”

Ms Chartrand said the research team will use innovative methods to rear millions of coral larvae with improved performance and uptake of the microscopic symbiotic algae, which are required for coral survival. “Trials have shown improved settlement and survival of juvenile corals using this approach.

These techniques will be combined with new methods to scale-up mass coral larval restoration on some experimental reef areas that were damaged by the 2016 and 2017 mass coral bleaching events on the northern Great Barrier Reef,” she said.

The project is led by Southern Cross University Marine Ecology Research Centre director Professor Peter Harrison, whose research in coral reproduction and larvae has rapidly advanced the potential for large scale reef recovery. Together with their colleague Associate Professor David Suggett from University Technology Sydney, Ms Chartrand and Professor Harrison secured new funding for the project.

The project was one of six innovative ideas selected from a field of 69 international submissions to be funded from the Federal and Queensland Government’s $2 million Great Barrier Reef Coral Abundance Challenge. The Challenge was run by the Advance Queensland Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) initiative under the auspices of which the six chosen projects will be field tested this year.

This collaborative partnership relies on key linkages Ms Chartrand and the JCU team have developed with local tourism and reef-based industries to be able to restore larger areas of reef than ever before. A key partner, Aroona Boat Charters, is providing a vessel and crew during the mass spawning event later this year to assist with rearing and settling the coral larvae safely onto the reef.

“We hope to make direct partnerships between science and other industry partners the norm rather than the exception as these innovations develop,” said Ms Chartrand. “Collaboration is fundamental to a successful outcome.”

The larval restoration technique has been successfully trialled by Professor Harrison and colleagues on reefs at Heron Island and One Tree Island on the southern Great Barrier Reef and in the Philippines.

Ms Chartrand said the research partners will conduct the rearing and settlement of coral larvae in the Vlasoff and Arlington Reef area off Cairns. The collection of eggs and sperm will begin during the mass coral spawning events on the reef in November. The rearing and release of the coral larvae will occur over the following weeks with monitoring of the project’s success to continue into 2019.

Ms Chartrand said the project “aims to buy time to support coral populations while policy makers continue the really hard work of capping emissions to halt climate change: the real root of the problem facing our reefs. It is the only way to ensure coral reefs survive in the future.”

2018 Far North Great Barrier Reef

Each year, Aroona strives to captivate guests with the beauty and wonder of some of the most remote regions of far northern Australia. In March 2018, Aroona’s expedition was two-fold: a journey into the most untouched and uppermost reaches of the Great Barrier Reef and a search of the pristine river systems in and around Princess Charlotte Bay.

The most northern confines of the Great Barrier Reef are some of the most challenging waters to navigate and anchor on the whole of the Great Barrier Reef. The currents that run through the reef in this area have helped shape the reef over thousands of years and transformed them into the vein-like river systems we see today. Even when tidal movement is low, the strong currents through the narrow passages between Papua New Guinea and Australia create some of the most spectacular sections of reef to explore. The views our drone captured from above of this slice of paradise are simply stunning! Over the two months Aroona spent in the far north we found coral gardens with 100% coral cover and an incredible diversity of fish and marine life.

Each day the activities ranged from scuba diving, snorkelling, spearfishing, light tackle fishing, exploring islands, sand cays and kite surfing. The fishing was fantastic with a variety of species caught from light tackle, fly fishing and spearfishing allowing our chef to have a great selection to prepare every day.

Along with the outer reef, we managed to cruise out to the mid shelf reefs off Princess Charlotte Bay and traverse the estuary rivers of the Cape York Peninsula. Our guests were picked up at Lizard Island, Lockhart River, Portland Roads and Horn Island. The remote air strips in these locales make it possible to experience the best of the Great Barrier Reef without having to spend 3 days travelling on board. Time is a precious commodity these days.

In 2019 Aroona will be running a limited number of 6 to 7 day trips again in the Far North. We just can’t get enough and there is soooo much more to discover in our own “backyard”! If you wish to secure a week with us please contact us and ask about the 2019 Far North expedition. We can tailor each trip to suit your level of adventure.