Down Under Cruise and Dive Eco-Tourism

Coral Nursery Program

In partnership with the Coral Nurture Program, Down Under Cruise and Dive created the North Hastings Coral Nursery in 2021. Our project goal is to assist the reefs natural recovery process in impacted areas to return these areas back to a natural level as determined by the AIMS long term monitoring program.

Down Under Cruise and Dive currently have 8 fully functional Nursery frames at North Hastings Reef stocked with a range of species and morphologies. These donors along with fragments of opportunity have already resulted in the outplanting of thousands of coral fragments to the surrounding North Hastings reef tourism snorkelling and diving site.

Our team of Marine Biologists inspect the nursery frame infrastructure daily to ensure the frames are maintained and collect important data on growth, health and the survival of all nurseries propagated and out planted coral. The data collected from our project site improves our understanding of how certain corals thrive across different environmental gradients of light, temperature, current flows and sediment loads.

Being part of this program is at the heart of what we do every day, to protect the reef for years to come. Read more about the Coral Nurture Program here.

Tourism Reef Protection Initiative

The Tourism Reef Protection Initiative (TRPI) empowers Reef Tourism operators to monitor and protect the sites that they visit. We are contracted under the $1.2 billion Reef protection package, to undertake reef protection services that ensure the preservation of the world heritage values now and into the future. The initiative builds on the highly successful Eye on the Reef citizen science program, as well as the High standard Tourism Operator and Master Reef Guide programs, with $15.1 million allocated to engage marine tourism operators through to 30 June 2024. As part of this program Down Under Cruise and Dive have:

  • Conducted 194 High frequency reef health surveys and monitoring actions
  • Removed 6,583 Drupella snails
  • Contributed 2,254 images to ReefCloud, an artificial intelligence system that analyses reef composition
  • Grown and outplanted thousands of coral fragments as part of assisted recovery intervention activities
  • Monitored for Crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks
  • Upgraded reef education and interpretation programs
  • Developed a Site-specific Stewardship Plan

Traditional Owners

Down Under Cruise and Dive recognises and respects the ongoing stewardship and custodianship of the Great Barrier Reef's Sea Country by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners. Their vibrant cultures, deep-rooted heritage values, enduring bonds, and collaborative endeavours safeguard the Reef for generations to come.

We extend special acknowledgment to the Yirrganydji people, whose Sea Country we have the privilege of visiting during our tours of the Great Barrier Reef.

Scientific Community Information

We engaged with partners to facilitate permitted scientific research within our sites:

James Cook University: assisted JCU with a coral recruitment study to understand relative juvenile coral recruitment patterns at targeted locations, regularly visited tourism sites, within the Cairns-Port Douglas region over time and space.

Coral Nurture Program - Coral Nursery: partnered with CNP to establish a baseline of coral cover at our site, create a coral nursery environmental and monitoring plan and implement a Coral Nursery at North Hastings reef.

CSIRO: ARC visitor survey: partnered with Dr Matt Curnock for an “Assisted coral devices” visitor survey. The aim of the survey was to determine if there was a negative effect due to the presence of these devices to the visitor experiences, or when accompanied by appropriate educational information, they can potentially contribute to an enhanced visitor experience, and help to raise awareness of Reef stewardship and conservation efforts.

Sustainability Timeline

2013: Cardboard recycling facilities installed on the reef
2015: First full-time marine biologist appointed at Down Under Cruise and Dive
2016: Advanced Eco-Certified and the first company environmental management plan created
2016: Submit first Eye on the Reef Health Survey
2016: The last plastic straw is given out onboard
2017: Single use plastic removed onboard and head office installs solar to go energy net positive
2018: "Containers for Change" recycling all aluminum and plastic bottles
2021: Down Under Dive trains first Master Reef Guide and Coral Nursery is installed
2022: Down Under Dive secures GBRMPA contract for Tourism Reef Protection Initiative (TRPI)
2022: Down Under Dive trains second Master Reef Guide
2023: Assisted with CSIRO ARC device visitor survey study
2023: Marine Science Coordinator appointed
2023-2024: Assisted with JCU Coral Recruitment Study
2024: Semi-Subsumarine switches from 2 stroke to cleaner 4 stroke outboards
2024: Site Stewardship Plan completed for North Hastings Reef

Climate Change

Down Under Cruise and Dive is committed to climate change action and with our certification from Eco Tourism Australia, we are dedicated to reducing carbon emissions and assuring travelers that certified products are backed by a commitment to sustainable practices related to addressing climate change.

Ways you can help:

Offset emissions: choose non-stop flights and choose to offset your flight emissions.
Natural sunscreen: apply 30mins before swimming to prevent harming marine ecosystems.
Be mindful of surrounds: aim for minimal disruption to the natural environment.
Switch off lights: when not in use.
Turn off appliances: before you leave for your trip and when at home not in use.
Reusable products: to reduce disposable plastic waste.
Save water: opt out of everyday hotel towel refreshes, re-wear clothes and keep showers short.
Take public transport: choose to catch the train, bus, ride your bike or walk when you can.

Eco-Certification Accreditation

The ECO Certification Program certifies tourism products (tours, accommodations, attractions) with a primary focus on nature. It assures travellers that certified products are backed by a strong, well managed commitment to sustainable practices and provides high-quality nature-based tourism experiences. The ECO Certification program is a world first and it has been developed to address the need to identify genuine nature and ecotourism operators' products.

As an Advanced Eco Tourism certified business, we acknowledge our responsibility in the management and interpretation of the areas we visit and maintain a firm focus on the sustainable use of our natural resources.

Down Under Cruise and Dive are a Citizen of the Great Barrier Reef Logo
Advanced Eco-Certified Eco-Tourism Tour Operator in Cairns
Map of Australia as Down Under Cruise and Dive is locally owned and operated
PADI Certified Dive Centre logo
Tripadvisor Travellers Choice Award Logo
Ausmarine 2016 Best Tourist Dive Boat Award Logo
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