Virtual Reef Diver

Project overview

The Virtual Reef Diver is a cloud-based, citizen-science platform designed to combine data from different sources and provide up-to-date information on the health status of the Great Barrier Reef. Citizens contribute to Virtual Reef Diver in two ways:

  • visitors to the reef can upload underwater images showing the seafloor
  • people can help classify hard coral in those images online.

Image-based data from citizen-science groups, reef operators, traditional owners, researchers, and professional monitoring programs are then combined within the platform and used to automatically generate predictive maps of coral cover (reef-health indicator) across the whole-of-the GBR, as new up-to-date data becomes available.


The Virtual Reef Diver platform is fully operational and results-to-date show that integrating image-based data from multiple organisations significantly increases the accuracy of reef health predictions.

The project led to positive community participation and attract national and international engagement. The Virtual Reef Diver was promoted by ABC during the Australian’s Science Week in 2018 and was finalist for the Eureka Awards in 2019.

The Virtual Reef Diver is also an educational board card game that teaches about the dangers that the Great Barrier Reef currently faces, and the solutions data scientists are providing for its defence while having fun.

Research publication:

  • Monitoring through many eyes: Integrating disparate datasets to improve monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Environmental Modelling and Software (2019)

Project team


Virtual Reef Diver project team