Reef Havens Research Project

RRRC Factsheet

Reef Havens Research Project

A way forward for the Great Barrier Reef

With back-to-back bleaching events the Great Barrier Reef is graphically displaying its inability to acclimatize to the stresses imposed by the current rapid rate of global climate change. Alongside global efforts to slow warming, we need to find new science-based ways forward for the Reef and the communities and industries that depend upon it.

Managing climate change refugia for local-scale persistence of valued ecological communities while longer-term bigger-picture solutions are enacted is a well-accepted approach for conservation management of terrestrial ecosystems. Corals have considerable natural capacity to acclimatize and adapt to gradually increasing temperatures, but these processes are unlikely to be able to keep pace if stressful conditions occur every year. Even conservative climate forecasts show that several decades of rapid global warming is now inevitable. If the Great Barrier Reef is to have a future, potential refugia (“havens”) not only need to be identified and prioritised, but actively defended using a range of science-based management interventions that reduce coral stress, promote coral survival, reduce bleaching severity and promote recovery after bleaching.

Reef Havens is bringing together Australia’s best marine scientific and engineering expertise to develop some of the practical tools we need to actively and successfully defend reef sites at local scales. In combination with ongoing Reef-wide efforts to control outbreaks of coral-eating starfish, improve water quality and promote reef resilience, these practical tools will enable communities and industries to take the lead in defending their local reefs. Development and demonstrable success of these tools will enhance Australia’s international reputation as a leader in coral reef protection worldwide.

There is no suggestion that even an extremely effective and coordinated Reef Havens program could save the Reef as a whole from climate change. However, this science-based Reef Havens approach will provide data and field trials to inform a way forward for the Great Barrier Reef through the coming decades of already inevitable rapid climate change.


News Article

IMOS Marine Matters, Issue 34, July 2020



2023 Asia Pacific Coral Symposium 

Reef Havens 2020 Sea Trial

08/06/20 - Feasibility of low-tech and low-power solutions to retore failed water column mixing during coral bleaching events


ATBC 2019

03/08/19 - Suzanne Long & Dennis Stanley - Could restoring normal water column mixing improve outcomes for shallow corals during mass bleaching events?


Great Barrier Reef Restoration Symposium

17/07/18 - Suzanne Long - Reef Havens: an in-situ research platform for developing effective science-based local-scale interventions for the GBR


Media Release

07/12/17 - RRRC welcomes funding for Reef water-mixing technology as bleaching season approaches.

Agincourt Reef Water Temperature Chart

How is wind affecting water temperature on the Great Barrier Reef? Click on the image below for the latest temperature and wind measurements, updated daily, courtesy of @possibilize and AIMS


RRRC Factsheet