Environment Research, Monitoring Programs & Associations
Australia’s leading and most innovative ecotourism operators are awarded with the “Eco-certified Advanced Ecotourism” accreditation by Ecotourism Australia. To achieve this rating an operator must provide an opportunity to learn about the environment, be committed to achieving best practice when using resources wisely, and be contributing to the conservation of the environment and helping local communities.
Credibility with industry, communities and travelers is at the heart of the ECO Certification Program. This is maintained through: rigorous assessment process, ongoing reviews, feedback from customers and guests of certified operators, audits of operators.
On the 6th November 2007 Mike Ball Dive Expeditions was awarded an Advanced Ecotourism Certification through the Nature and Ecotourism Accreditation Program (NEAP).
For further information visit: www.ecotourism.org.au/eco_certification.asp
CRC Reef Research Affiliate
In May 1999, Mike Ball Dive Expeditions was officially recognised for their support to marine research projects associated with the CRC Reef Research Centre Ltd by being awarded a CRC Reef Research Affiliate award. The close relationship with CRC Reef Research Centre is maintained today, with ongoing reef monitoring partnerships and the Dwarf Minke Whale Research Project.
Eye on the Reef
The Eye on the Reef Program is an environmental monitoring, education and stewardship program based upon a partnership between the Great Barrier Reef tourism industry, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the reef research community. The Program’s main aim is to facilitate information exchange between the project partners including information about dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef, and to foster stewardship of the Reef by tourism industry staff.
Global Shark Diving
Global Shark Diving is an alliance of independent dive operators that provide some of the world’s finest shark diving experiences. All operators are committed to providing world class shark diving and operate within a code of conduct that is determined by their unique business, marine and safety requirements.
Reef Check Research
Reef Check’s research projects focus on monitoring the health of our coral reefs and how human impacts affect them. Reef Check Australia’s dataset is available (through Google Earth) to the general public, coral reef managers and scientists.
Peace on the Reef
Since its conception in 1994 our Peace on the Reef program has educated thousands of divers to the ongoing issue of reef and marine life protection and conservation. Peace on the Reef is the process of divers being instructed to use the peace signal (“V”), to signal to another diver that they may be doing something damaging. Divers use the signal, then point to the problem. This friendly communication alerts divers to the situation and allows them to adjust their behaviour immediately. Our reusable sports water-bottles have the Peace on the Reef logo as a constant reminder to guests to be aware of their actions.
Minke Whale Project
The Minke Whale Project is the combined scheme of James Cook University, the Museum of Tropical Queensland and live-aboard dive tour operators in the Cairns section of the Great Barrier Reef.
Passengers and crew are asked to get involved with this project by completing simple forms which include information on the number of whale sightings, type of whales, where they were sighted, etc. Mike Ball Dive Expeditions were privileged to win five awards for their contribution to the project, following the 2008 season.
In 2012 we welcomed PhD student Rachel Williams onboard for a special Nautilus Research expedition. Five specimens were collected and shipped to their new home at Central Queensland University. Although they were given numerical identification for the research, they’ve also acquired pet names: Chris, Riley, Spoil, Sport and Bubbles (a bubble hog who holds onto the aerator).
The collected specimens are being observed with a variety of behaviour studies to assess how these ancient creatures respond to factors such as light wavelengths and food source. Rachel‘s research goal is to help produce data to assist with decisions on whether the nautilus needs formal protection against harvesting.
In 2013 we will be running six expeditions with a Nautilus capture and release program for the Central Queensland University research department. Nautilus traps will be set overnight at Osprey Reef and retrieved the next morning. Guests will have the rare opportunity to observe, photograph and dive with these deep sea creatures.
Risk to the Great Barrier Reef from Climate Change
The warmer air and ocean surface temperatures brought on by climate change impact corals and alter coral reef communities by prompting bleaching events and altering ocean chemistry. These impacts affect corals and the many organisms that use coral reefs as habitat. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Outlook Report for the Great Barrier Reef in 2009 stated: “the threats of increasing sea temperature, ocean acidification and rising sea level are assessed as very high risk to the ecosystem… . Their impact will be compounded by each other and by other existing regional and local threats”.
Actions our guests can take to reduce their holiday Greenhouse Gas Emissions
There are a number of actions guests can take in order to reduce their carbon emissions whilst vacationing. When planning your trip, choose accommodation and tours that are committed to the environment (in particular, those that hold thrid-party sustainable tourism certifications). Financially offset your carbon emission with donations to organisations such as www.carbonneutral.com.au. When you arrive at your destination minimise your footprint: walk or use public transport; get to know the local culture & cuisine; monitor your water consumption and conserve electricity.
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions’ Action to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Climate Change poses one of the greatest threats to coral reefs. At Mike Ball Dive Expeditions we have implemented strategies to tackle climate change by reducing our carbon emissions. Some examples of this action include:.
- We minimise waste and recycle whenever possible.
- We minimise and track our emissions footprint by using the Marine Park Authority emissions calculator.
- Our vessel is serviced regularly to maintain optimal fuel efficiency
- We participate with the Marine Park Authority’s Reef Health Surveys and Eye on the Reef Monitoring programmes.