Front fringing reef of North Direction Island, GBR - one of the reefs under survey by the Long Term Monitoring Team. Photo: AIMS LTMP

Monitoring the health of the GBR since 1993

The AIMS Long Term Monitoring Program (LTMP) has been surveying the health of 47 reefs in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) annually since 1993.

The reefs are spread broadly across the region so this represents the longest continuous temporal record of change in reef communities over such a large scale.

What we monitor and why this is important 

A team of trained divers surveys fishes by underwater visual census and records corals and other bottom dwelling organisms along the same sections of reef at each visit. 

The data captures the natural variability of coral and fish populations and documents the effects of disturbances like crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) outbreaks, cyclones and bleaching events.

A crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) consumes its coral prey in shallow water on a reef in the Pompey sector of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: AIMS LTMP

The team also provides situational awareness on other threats to the reef (e.g. outbreaks of coral disease), and gathers information on other issues of concern to reef managers.

A separate component of the program monitors the effects of the 2004 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park zoning plan using the same monitoring techniques.

The LTMP publishes regional reports after each survey trip. Information on each survey reef is available online and is updated after each visit. 

Monitoring in Western Australia
In Western Australia, AIMS has been monitoring fish and coral communities on Scott Reef on the North West Shelf since 1994 to understand natural variability, and how its isolation from other reefs in the Indian Ocean and dependence upon self-recruitment affects the dynamics of local populations and resilience of communities to disturbances like cyclones.

More information

Links to detailed information about:

The AIMS Long Term Monitoring Program is led by: Dr Hugh Sweatman