Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is currently under attack from a new coral bleaching event.

With the World Science Festival happening in Brisbane an international research team is there as well preparing to sail north and study the extent of the damage.

Emily Halverson reports.


Heat, acidity, noise and pollution. It appears the health of the world’s oceans is deteriorating.

The Ocean Mapping Expedition, a four-year sailing voyage around the world, is undertaking a series of programs to assess humanity’s impact on the ocean.

The Fleur de Passion, a 33 metre ketch is in Brisbane preparing to continue her discovery voyage.

The expedition will include two missions to assess the state of the Great Barrier Reef.

Prof Justin Martin, CoralWatch: “We’re now two years in a row suffering a second massive bleaching event which means by the end of this year, the reef will be perhaps no longer great.”

Like detectives those on board the research vessel are out to expose the truth about the reef’s damage.

Dr Chris Roelfsema, Marine Geographer: “If we have willingness then we can maybe not repair, but stop or slow it down.”

One of the expedition’s core programs has been to survey micro-plastics in a global sense.

On the journey so far, the crew have found plastic in all their water samples, suggesting no ocean is immune to this.

Several thousand hours of submarine recordings also document how man made noise is threatening marine life.

The Fleur de Passion will continue to track this data over its remaining two years at sea.

Emily Halverson, QUT News.