Dr Adam Smith

Reef Recovery at Magnetic Island

Dr Adam Smith
Director, Reef Ecologic
Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

Adam is a dedicated scientist with a life long commitment to the marine environment and a vision to make a positive difference. With 30 years experience in research, management and leadership, and 15 years with GBRMPA, he has authored over 50 Scientific papers and books.

What is macroalgae?

Macroalgae is the collective term for the seaweeds and other marine algae that are visible to the naked eye. They are the foundation of the reef’s food system, feeding many of of the ocean’s herbivores and also providing a habitat for invertebrates and vertebrates. Macroalgae are an important part of the reef ecosystem, but too much macroalgae can cause damage to corals.

Impact on the Reef

An overgrowth of macroalgae can take up space, affecting the health of existing coral and preventing or slowing down new coral growth. Climate change is a factor – rising sea temperatures increase the production of some species of macroalgae. Magnetic Island, or ‘Maggie Island’ as it's sometimes affectionately called, is one of the most visited national parks within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but macroalgae is a big problem for the coral around Magnetic Island. This is why the Reef Recovery project is so important - to keep the Reef healthy and beautiful, macroalgae needs to be kept at sustainable levels.

Action being taken

The project uses the power of community action to help protect the precious fringing reefs from an overgrowth of macroalgae on the nearshore reef environments of Magnetic Island. Volunteers from all walks of life and professions, including tourism operators, conservationists, fishers, divers and other locals work together in the water to actively remove macroalgae. The algae is counted and weighed before being composted by the local Magnetic Island public school.

  • 30%
    reduction in algae coverage in 2 years
  • 3
    project locations on Magnetic Island
Dr Adam Smith
A lot of people are silent about what matters to them, and I think it is a real danger to not stand up and talk about things that matter to you. Educating people about the plight of the Reef is crucial, that’s where the real power is. The reef matters to me, and I’m proud of the work we are doing on Magnetic Island.
Dr Adam Smith, Director, Reef Ecologic

Support is urgently needed so that volunteers can:

  • Protect existing coral by bringing macroalgae down to sustainable levels
  • Increase coral growth
  • Set up a monitoring program to share the results
  • Develop a field-tested model that can be used to keep the Reef healthy at other locations
  • Spread the word about the importance of Reef health
  • Keep the Reef around Magnetic Island healthy and beautiful

Related actions

Unite for the reef.

Together, we can ease the pressures that the reef faces - but we need your support to do it. Because it’s only when we’re united as Citizens, that our individual actions can come together to make a real, physical impact on the Great Barrier Reef.