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Citizen Science on the Great Barrier Reef – Turtles & Rays

Brisbane to Cairns10 nightsAll InclusiveFrom $9,990.00* PP

Join Coral Expeditions as we undertake our 3rd unique citizen science themed expedition along the length of the Great Barrier Reef to learn about two iconic species – Turtles and Rays. With a maximum of 70 guests and with leading research experts onboard,  in partnership with Australian Geographic, our small expedition ship Coral Discoverer will call on remote reefs, islands, and significant wildlife habitats in the Coral Sea marine zone.

Along the way get hands on experience with marine conservation at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre in Bundaberg and as you meet with resident researchers at work. Connect with the Project Manta team in the protected “green zone” sanctuary of Lady Elliot Island. Participate in species surveys on guided snorkelling sessions at the John Brewer and Ribbon Reefs. Travel with a community of conservation-minded explorers and gain access to far reaching atolls and reefs such as Orpheus, Middle Percy and Heron Islands. Contribute to conservation programs including biodiversity databases, wildlife rehabilitation and coral science throughout the voyage.

  • Visit the Mon Repos Turtle Centre and enjoy a ranger guided Turtle Tracks and Tales walk exploring the conservation park and learn about turtle conservation, research, turtle tracks and nesting sites
  • Experience the work of dedicated marine scientists in Coral Reef Studies at the oldest and largest marine research station on the Great Barrier Reef, Heron Island Research Station
  • Learn about the Coral Restoration Program and how corals are planted and rejuvenated across the Great Barrier Reef
  • Snorkel and dive at John Brewer Reef, home to the largest installation of Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) sharing in a message of reef conservation and restoration
  • Lend a hand to the volunteers at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, where sick and injured turtles are card for before being returned to the wild
  • Meet and learn about how you can collaborate with the Project Manta team, a multidisciplinary research collaboration focusing on the population ecology and biology of manta rays within Australian waters
  • Participate in scientific and conservation efforts to monitor and research marine biodiversity through programs including Eye on the Reef, GBRMPA Sightings Network, Coral Watch and Mangrove Watch


Coral Expeditions - Citizen Science GBR - Brisbane to Cairns - 10 Nights-01


Board Coral Discoverer at 8:00am for our 9:00am cast off from Brisbane Cruise Terminal. Settle into your stateroom and mingle with fellow guests and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Drinks.

Manta Ray

Located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay which serves as a sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life. Situated in the ‘green zone’ the island is protected and hosts Project Manta – the research program run by the University of Queensland. Since 2007, Project Manta has been closely monitoring the biology and ecology of the manta rays here. Each manta ray has unique ventral markings, similar to a human fingerprint, and photo-identification of these markings are a primary method of observing the population. On our visit here, learn about Lady Elliot Island’s pivotal role in Project Manta and enjoy kayaking, snorkelling, diving and citizen science activities.


Visit Mon Repos Turtle Centre, the only ranger-guided turtle encounter opportunity on the east-coast and key researcher in turtle conservation, specifically the endangered Loggerhead turtles that frequent the Mon Repos beach. Explore the conservation park and learn all about the wildlife conservation activities that take place here. On a ranger guided excursion, you can witness an ancient life cycle of the animal kingdom as majestic sea turtles make their journey to the shore to lay their eggs and then delight at the sight of their young, hatching weeks later, and making their perilous journey to the sea.

Outerknown Turtle

Heron Island is one of the major sea turtle nesting sites on the Great Barrier Reef. Located 80km from Gladstone, the island has a long history, now divided into three sections: the resort, research station and National Park. Tour the marine research station – the oldest and largest on the Great Barrier Reef – where staff will provide insights into research process and the inner workings of the station. Get up close to the marine life by touch tank and enjoy kayaking, snorkelling, diving and citizen science activities here.

Middle Percy

Middle Percy Island has a colourful history – it has seen famous visitors, including Errol Flynn, and for many years was a leasehold duty-bound to providing fresh water and supplies to passing sailors. The island still has its famous ‘A-frame’, where visitors could take shelter and find supplies.  Go ashore at West Bay beach and visit the A-Frame where Robin and Annie, the island’s caretakers, will share some of the history and stories of the island. Enjoy a guided walk, a swim at West Bay, snorkelling and, if the tide permits, a zodiac cruise through the shallow marine nursery of the lagoon.

Coral Restoration Program Whitsundays

After a cyclone impacted reefs in the Whitsundays, Reef Ecologic, in partnership with the local community and tourism industry began a reef restoration project with the creation of coral nurseries. On our visit, learn about the Coral Restoration Program projects and observe how the corals are planted and rejuvenated. We will also enjoy kayaking, snorkelling, diving and citizen science activities such as working with Reef Ecologic to assist in coral planting.

MOUA - Museum of Underwater Art

Also known as the ‘coral greenhouse’, John Brewer Reef is in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The reef is notably home to the largest Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) installation with the first underwater building created by sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. The display aims to aid in the education of reef restoration and allow for a unique learning opportunity through snorkelling or diving the installation. Divers will have the opportunity to explore the display, while snorkellers will enjoy time at the lagoon and reef where turtles and rays are commonly present.

Coral Watch Program

Orpheus Island is located some 125km north of Townsville and is known for its natural beauty with several National Parks and fringing reefs. The only way to access the island is by helicopter or private charter. Sightings of reef sharks and green turtles alongside manta rays and humpback whales are possible here, depending on the season. During our visit here, enjoy the serenity of this secluded location while participating in citizen science field programs.

Fitzroy Island

At Fitzroy Island, enjoy a walk through the Secret Garden rainforest, or for the more adventurous, a walk to the de-commissioned lighthouse will reward hikers with panoramic views of Coral Sea, islands and mainland mountain ranges. Visit the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, a passionate non-profit organisation dedicated to the care of sick and injured turtles. Snorkel over the fringing reef, relax on the beach and lend a hand to the volunteers at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

Sudbury Cay Northern Australia Coral Expeditions Cruise

Sudbury Cay is a small sand cay that barely rises above the Coral Sea and is far removed from the bustle of civilisation. Here we slip off our shoes and feel the sand between our toes as the tropical waters of the Coral Sea lap gently against the shoreline. Surrounded by glistening sea and bathed in the glow of twilight, we enjoy sunset drinks and the company of like-minded explorers as we relax and watch the sun gently sink below the horizon.


The Ribbon Reefs are a narrow line of outer coral reefs on the edge of the continental shelf and are renowned for their prolific marine life and extensive coral species. Enjoy the rare opportunity to snorkel and dive on the Ribbon Reefs which sit on the edge of the continental shelf.

Due to their location far offshore from the Australian coast, the Ribbon Reefs offer excellent diving and snorkelling opportunities, with Ribbon Reef #3 & #5 are a favourite for its wide variety of marine life and pinnacles cloaked in coral. Join a guided snorkel tour led by our expert Master Reef and witness this extraordinary ecosystem up close. These northern reefs are renowned for spotting iconic marine species such as potato cod, wrasse, sharks, and turtles. Get involved in the Eye on the Reef program as we conduct species surveys during a number of snorkel experiences here.

Cairns wharf departure port

Arrive in Cairns at 8:00am this morning. Say a fond farewell to fellow guests and crew as our expedition comes to an end with enhanced knowledge and new memories to treasure from this rare expedition experience.

This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions, and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel. Coral Expeditions suggests that you do not arrive on the day of embarkation or depart on the day of disembarkation due to any changes that may occur in scheduling. 

Fares & Availability

Prices are per person twin share, listed in Australian Dollars (AUD) and include GST.  Booking Terms & Conditions >
For solo traveller rates see our Solo Traveller Program

Additional Information


  • All excursions with our Expedition Team
  • Use of Xplorer, Zodiacs and Kayaks
  • Snorkelling & SCUBA equipment (SCUBA diving at an additional cost)
  • Daily lectures and briefings with Guest Lecturers
  • All meals, chef-prepared on board
  • Captain’s welcome and farewell events, and open bridge access
  • Selected wines, selected beers and house spirits, juices, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner
  • 24-hour barista-style coffee and tea station
  • All entrance fees to National Parks, ports, traditional owner fees and charges imposed by governing authorities
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Use of all onboard facilities, incl. a reference library
  • Your expedition photos captured during the voyage
  • Post-cruise transfers
  • Wifi Access – Standard speed connectivity enabling email, social image sharing, web browsing and messaging

Not Included:

  • Pre-cruise transfers
  • Pre and post cruise flights/charter flights
  • Pre and post cruise accommodation
  • Travel Insurance
  • SCUBA Diving (view Scuba diving rates)
  • Entry visas & travel permits for the country you are traveling to/from
  • Alcoholic drinks (including beer and wine) outside of lunch and dinner service
  • Laundry service (available at a cost)
  • Items of a personal nature such as souvenir purchases
  • Optional Extras (in some destinations)
More Information

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