Wavelength ~ Committed to Supporting Reef Research

Wavelength has an ongoing research program that supports investigations into coral biology, reef rehabilitation and coral’s adaptive ability to cope with rapidly changing ocean conditions.  Revenue from ticket sales helps support this research.


Strudwick P, Camp EF, Seymour J, Roper, C, Edmondson J, Howlett L, Suggett DJ, Impacts of plastic-free materials on coral-associated bacterial communities during reef restoration. Environmental Microbiology Reports (2024) Publisher’s site

Strudwick P, Seymour J, Camp EF,  Roper C, Edmondson J, Howlett L, Suggett DJ, Bacterial communities associated with corals out‑planted on the Great Barrier Reef are inherently dynamic over space and time. Marine Biology 170:85 2023 Publisher’s site

Howlett L, Camp EF, Edmondson J, Hosp R, Taylor B, Coulthard P, Suggett DJ, Active coral propagation outcomes on coral communities at high-value Great Barrier Reef tourism sites. Biological Conservation, Volume 279, 2023, Publisher’s site

Roper, CD, Camp, EF, Edmondson, J, Suggett, DJ (2022) Combined impacts of natural recruitment and active propagation for coral population recovery on the Great Barrier Reef. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 700:95-109. Publisher’s site

Suggett, DJ, Nitschke, MR, Hughes, DJ, Bartels, N, Camp, EF, Dilernia, N, Edmondson, J, Fitzgerald, S, Grima, A, Warner ME, (2022) Toward bio-optical phenotyping of reef-forming corals using Light-Induced Fluorescence Transient-Fast Repetition Rate fluorometry.  Limnology and Oceanography Methods. View/Download from: Publisher’s site

Howlett, L, Camp, EF, Edmondson, J, Edmondson, J, Agius, T, Hosp, R, Coulthard, P, Edmondson, S. and Suggett, DJ, 2022. Adoption of coral propagation and out-planting via the tourism industry to advance site stewardship on the northern Great Barrier Reef. Ocean & Coastal Management225, p.106199. Publisher’s site

Strudwick, P, Seymour, JR, Camp, EF, Edmondson, J, Haydon, T,  Howlett, L, Reun, NL, Siboni N. & Suggett, DJ (2022) Impacts of nursery-based propagation and out-planting on coral-associated bacterial communities. Coral Reefs, View/Download from: Publisher’s site

Haydon, TD, Seymour, JR, Raina, J, Edmondson, J, Siboni, N, Matthews, JL, Camp, EF & Suggett, DJ (2021) Rapid Shifts in Bacterial Communities and Homogeneity of Symbiodiniaceae in Colonies of Pocillopora acuta Transplanted Between Reef and Mangrove Environments. Frontiers in Microbiology, View/Download from: Publisher’s site

Ros, M, Suggett, DJ, Edmondson, J, Haydon, TD, Hughes, DJ, Kim, M. Guagliardo, P, Bougoure, J, Pernice, M, Raina J & Camp, EF (2021)Symbiont shuffling across environmental gradients aligns with changes in carbon uptake and translocation in the reef-building coral Pocillopora acutaCoral Reefs,  View/ Download from: Publisher’s site

Howlett, L, Camp, EF, Edmondson, J, Henderson, N & Suggett, DJ, (2021) Coral growth, survivorship and return-on-effort within nurseries at high-value sites on the Great Barrier Reef. Plos One, View/ Download from: Publisher’s site

Suggett, DJ, Edmondson, J., Howlett, L & Camp, EF (2019) Coralclip®: a low‐cost solution for rapid and targeted out‐planting of coral at scale. Restoration Ecology, View/Download from: Publisher’s site

Current research

Opal Reef coral nursery. The largest research coral nursery on the GBR, the only outer reef nursery, and the first multi-species nursery.

Wavelength has a research partnership with Dr Emma Camp at University of Technology Sydney, Future Reefs Program.  The objective is studying the optimisation of coral propagation specific to GBR conditions. This research project started in February 2018 following on from a June 2017 National Geographic funded expedition on Wavelength 5 searching for corals in extreme habitats on the GBR. It led to the development of the Coral Nurture Program which enables a coordinated and scientific approach to up-scaling coral planting for the purposes of localised stewardship and adaptation.

In the last 20 years or so there has been an ever increasing interest in coral reef rehabilitation at many locations around the world. Despite this, the total area of rehabilitated reefs worldwide is at a scale of 10’s of  hectares. The  difficulties of up-scaling coral rehabilitation mean it is not suitable as an alternative to action to protect reefs.

The costs of rehabilitating a damaged reef are also vastly higher than preventing the damage in the fist place, and the outcome cannot be as good as the original. However, it can potentially be useful on a local scale and can also be an important tool in researching coral resilience and adaptation.

Small fragments 10 months later

Each coral reef region has specific circumstances and potential obstacles for reef rehabilitation. Historically the approach on the the GBR has been to manage the factors that affect coral resilience, like fishing pressure and water quality, and rely on natural recovery from impacts such as cyclones. This approach changed after the 2016 and 2017 bleaching events with an increased interest in researching potential interventions to help recovery from major environmental impacts and adaptation to climate change (However, in 2024, ecologically  the GBR is still totally dependent on natural recovery processes rather than any interventions).

Wavelength Reef Cruises developed a new coral planting method in 2017 called  Coralclip © which was tested during an Australian/Queensland Government funded research project in partnership with UTS. So far over 78,000 coral fragments have been out-planted.

The clip replaces cement or epoxy adhesive, to make out-planting of coral fragments or larval seeding units faster and more convenient.

3 month fragment using a Coralclip

This means that it is becoming viable for coral planting to be part of ongoing stewardship and adaptation at high value sites. The clips securely hold a small fragment of coral so that it’s tissue rapidly grows and self attaches to the reef within one to two months. The objective is making use of scientific knowledge about population genetics and heat tolerance to plant more naturally occurring heat tolerant corals to increase a site’s resilience.

During the coral spawning in November 2018 Wavelength spent 10 days at Opal Reef and successfully collected 400,000 coral eggs and fertilised them on board before releasing 300,000 back to the water.

The remaining 100,000 were reared in tanks on board the vessel through embryogenisis to become larvae that were settled on larval seeding units which were out-planted.

The larval rearing was successful, but low post-settlement survival occurred due to fish grazing and algal competition, possibly made worse by record rainfall. Because of this higher risk with larval rearing we are currently focusing research on fragment propagation. This has an advantage in that it can be done year round and the whole holobiont is passed to the new coral.

Newly out-planted area


Rescued coral fragment now self-attached















Citizen Science

The Eye on the Reef program is one of the best ways to get involved in helping monitor the health of the reef. The basic level of survey is Rapid Monitoring, which passengers can learn to do quite quickly. Our crew carry out Tourism Weekly Monitoring, and also the more complex surveys which are Reef Health and Impact Surveys (RHIS). It’s possible to get trained up to undertake these surveys and contribute to knowledge of what’s happening on the reef. In addition, Eye on the Reef has an App which works along side its Sightings Network to be able to log significant creature or event sightings, including Crown of Thorns starfish occurrence.

Plate coral self-attached after several weeks with the help of a Coralclip

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Total freedom to swim at your own pace. Go where you want, when you want. All Equipment Included

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Our Locations

Full Day Snorkel Tours

Our full day snorkel tours visit three outer reef sites, each day. The skipper picks these on the day, from our wide selection of exclusive outer reef moorings. Our aim is to show you the best reef, and the diversity of reef types.

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A Day With Wavelength

Commences with check-in at 8am and returns to Port Douglas around 4.30pm. In between you’re going to see and learn all about the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

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Reef Interpretation

Wavelength employs qualified marine biologists as crew, in order to offer a high level of interpretation of the Great Barrier Reef. They provide guided snorkel tours and reef talks.

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As one of the FIRST holders of certified Advanced Ecotourism, Wavelength are one of Australia’s leading ecotourism businesses. We’re committed to low impact reef tourism.

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