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Citizen Science Dive Great Barrier Reef

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Citizen Science On The Great Barrier Reef | Cairns - Cairns | 10 Nights

In partnership with Australian Geographic Society and GBR Legacy

10 Nights | Departing Cairns 30 June 2021 | Onboard Coral Discoverer

We have partnered with the Australian Geographic Society for a once-in-a-lifetime nature conservation experience on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. This special Citizen Science departure will explore some of the most remote edges of the outer reef, discover beautiful and complex habitats, and find sanctuary in the peaceful solitude of the Coral Sea.

Hosted by some of Australia’s most accomplished reef experts including Dr Dean Miller from the Australian Geographic Society and Dr Charlie Veron, widely known as the ‘Godfather of coral’, you will participate in real scientific research projects.

The Citizen Science component of the expedition will be curated by this expert team, and includes a focus on the annual migration of the dwarf Minke whales – with the opportunity to swim eye to eye with these magnificent creatures – and coral surveying and identification for the world-first Living Coral Biobank project.

With full access to the most knowledgeable and respected Marine Scientists in the world and the opportunity to witness their expertise, energy and passion, this expedition offers a rare chance to learn and make a difference in coral conservation. $500 from your fare benefits GBR Legacy.

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Expedition Highlights

  • Have the chance to swim amongst the Minke Whales and come eye to eye to make a true personal connection with these beautiful and curious creatures.
  • Be a part of conservation history by taking part in coral surveying and collections for the world’s first Living Coral Biobank project
  • Share your journey with a team of the most respected and knowledgeable Marine Scientists in the world
  • Discover Australian heritage and history as you explore the frontier township of Cooktown
  • Learn about reef conservation at the Research Station on Lizard Island and visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy island
  • Close each day over a refreshing sundowner as you watch the sun set over the vast expanse of the Coral Sea
  • Explore spectacular Osprey Reef, and observe overnight scientific research on the elusive Nautilus


$500 from your fare benefits GBR Legacy.

Flexible Deposit:  Book now with 30 days before deposit payment required. T&Cs Apply.

Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom $17,250 n/a
Promenade Deck (Category A) $15,150 n/a
Promenade Deck (Category B) n/a $19,900
Main Deck (Category A) $13,050 n/a
Main Deck (Category B) $12,400 n/a

Prices are per person, listed in Australian Dollars (AUD) and include GST. Children of all ages are permitted on this trip. Adult fares will apply. *Limited sole use occupancy available.

Snorkelling & Diving Information


Travel Update - Covid Page

Your GBR Legacy Hosts:

Great Barrier Reef Legacy is a non-profit organisation and a platform for research, education and change. Great Barrier Reef Legacy will create the world’s first bio-bank of living corals, with ambitions to make it “one of the largest collaborative citizen science and research projects the world has ever seen”. For guests joining us onboard Coral Discoverer for this voyage, you have the exciting opportunity to be involved in scientific research for the bio-bank project, travelling alongside:

Dr Dean Miller – Director of Science and Media

Dr Dean is an Australian Geographic sponsored explorer, as well the Director of Science and Media and co-founder of the Great Barrier Reef Legacy, a scientist, multi-media professional and BBC television presenter. With a PhD in coral reef management, tourism and resource allocation and a wealth of scientific experience in the field from Antarctica to the Arctic and everywhere in between, Dean’s scientific research career has been rich and diverse. A self-taught and accomplished filmmaker, he has shot, produced and presented documentaries for major broadcasters including the BBC, ABC, National Geographic, Disney Nature, Foxtel, Red Bull TV and the Discovery Channel. Dean’s work has been narrated by the legendary Sir David Attenborough on many occasions and has been acclaimed for its breathtaking and stunning natural history and cinematic qualities. Dean also spends time in front of the camera, and is a presenter for the multi-award-winning “Coast Australia” BBC and Foxtel series with Neil Oliver, “Australian Geographic Explores” on Channel 9, and was a regular guest presenter with Channel 7’s Sunday Night Program.


Dr Charlie Veron – ‘Godfather of Coral’

Charlie Veron is a biologist, taxonomist, and specialist in the study of corals and reefs. He is believed to have discovered more than 20% of the world’s coral species naming more coral species than anyone in history, becoming widely known as the Godfather of coral. He was the first scientist to be employed by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, becoming Chief Scientist of that organisation in 1997. He has published a hundred pieces on all aspects of corals, from palaeontology, taxonomy and biogeography to physiology and molecular science, and has also published widely on other subjects, notably evolution and mass extinctions. Charlie’s work has underpinned most major reef conservation initiatives over the past two decades.


It is with heavy hearts that Coral Expeditions joins the global Great Barrier Reef community in mourning the passing of John Rumney. John has been a true inspiration and a pioneer of conservation, science and marine interpretation for many thousands of visitors and professionals involved with the reef. Although John will no longer be onboard for this voyage, his legacy will be.



Embark: Board Coral Discoverer in Cairns at 4:00pm for a 5:00pm departure
Disembark: Arrive in Cairns at 7:00am and disembark at 8:00am

Day 1: Depart Cairns

Cairns departure Great Barrier Reef

Board Coral Discoverer at 4:00 pm where there is time to settle into your stateroom before our 5:00 pm departure. Cruise northwards from Cairns toward Cooktown, and at days end, join fellow explorers and crew for the Captain’s Welcome Drinks.

Ribbon Reef #9 and #10

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 coral species.  Due to their location far offshore from the Australian coast, the Ribbon Reefs offer excellent diving and snorkelling opportunities, with Ribbon Reef #9 a favourite for its wide variety of marine life and pinnacles cloaked in coral. These northern reefs are renowned for spotting iconic marine species such as potato cod, wrasse, sharks and turtles. Enjoy excellent diving and snorkelling, with guided interpretation from our marine biologist.

Here we will search for and have the chance to snorkel with the graceful dwarf Minke whales. The outer Great Barrier Reef is the only place in the world where it is possible for humans to interact with these majestic whales! Growing 8-9 metres long, they migrate through the Great Barrier Reef during the winter months, feeding on krill and small fish.  Snorkelling with them is a truly magical experience, as the slender whales glide through the water at up to 34kms an hour.  They are known for their curiosity and may want to have a closer look at you as well!  Our time spent at the Ribbon Reefs will be dictated by the whales, as we may have to search or wait for them. As wild animals, they are unpredictable, and we cannot guarantee a whale encounter.

Learn more about the Ribbon Reefs >

Rachel Carson Reef & Mackay Reef

Snorkelling With Slate

Named after the famous American conservationist, Rachel Carson, this well-protected platform reef provides our main opportunity to assist with the citizen science project. Dr Miller will present on the Coral Biobank project before he leads an expedition underwater to survey coral species and marine life. The GBR Legacy team will review survey results and conduct collection of specimens.

The following day, continue your surveying work at beautiful Mackay Reef and Cay, located off Cape Tribulation. The vibrant fringing reef offers a rewarding underwater discovery and you might spot some of the numerous turtles that gather here.

Osprey Reef

Osprey Reef Diving

Osprey Reef is the summit of an undersea 2,000m mountain located beyond the continental shelf, in the Coral Sea. This atoll provides amazing underwater visibility from 30-60 metres, and you can observe magnificent corals, plummeting drop-offs and many fish in the crystalline waters. Osprey Reef is a highly prized tropical dive location amongst scuba divers, called an ‘oasis for living creatures of all kinds’ by Sir David Attenborough. This once-in-a-lifetime destination, Osprey Reef is a true expedition-style experience and our visit is subject to appropriate weather conditions.  Diving here is most suitable for experienced divers, and our visit is subject to weather conditions. In the late evening, observe as the marine science team conducts research on the elusive Nautilus.



Come ashore in historic Cooktown and learn the history of the Guugu Yimithirr, the first people of this ancient country. Discover recent European history with a visit to the site where Lt. James Cook beached HMB Endeavour to effect repairs in 1770. Discover the Grassy Hill lookout with its 360o views of Cooktown and Endeavour River, where kangaroos were first spotted by Europeans, and see the monument to the first act of reconciliation. Wander through the rare flora collection at the Botanic Gardens and visit James Cook Museum, where the story of Cook’s landing is told from an Aboriginal perspective and where artefacts are on display.

Davie Reef & Cay & Tydeman Reef

At Davie Reef & Tydeman Reef enjoy snorkelling, diving or glass-bottom boat tours over the colourful fringing reef or stroll on the cay to see the lively Brown Boobie bird colony.

Lizard Island

Start the day with a dawn hike to the summit of Cook’s Look and enjoy the same view Lt. James Cook did when searching for safe passage through the maze of coral reefs. Snorkel over giant clam gardens from the beach at Watson’s Bay or relax with a walk on the white-sand beneath shady she-oak trees and learn about the tragic story surrounding Mary Watson.

There may be an opportunity to visit Lizard Island Research Station, operated by the Australian Museum to facilitate coral reef research and education on the Great Barrier Reef. The research station hosts about 100 research projects each year.

After the day’s adventures, enjoy sunset drinks on a quiet beach as the sun sets over the Coral Sea.

Fitzroy Island & Sudbury Cay

At Fitzroy Island enjoy a walk through the Secret Garden rainforest or for the more adventurous, a walk to the decommissioned lighthouse rewards hikers with panoramic views of Coral Sea, islands and mainland mountain ranges.

Snorkel and spot turtles over the fringing reef, relax on Nudey Beach or lend a hand to the volunteers as we learn about the turtles at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, where sick and injured turtles are cared for before being returned to the wild.

In the late afternoon, arrive at Sudbury Cay, a tiny sand cay that barely rises above the Coral Sea. Far removed from the bustle of civilisation, slip off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes as the tropical waters of the Coral Sea lap gently against the shoreline. As the sun gently sinks below the horizon, enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Drinks on your own private sand island.

Day 11: Arrive Cairns

Our Great Barrier Reef adventure concludes in Cairns this morning as we bid farewell to new-found friends, the Master and crew, disembarking at 8:00 am.

A post-cruise transfer to the city or airport is included.

Note: *Tours of the Lizard Island Research Station are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed due to operational considerations.

* Some reef sites are suitable for experienced divers only.

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.

June 2021

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
30 June 2021 30 Jun 2021 10 July 2021 10 Jul 2021 $12,400 to $19,900 $12,400 to $19,900 Coral Discoverer Filling Fast Book

July 2021

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
30 June 2021 30 Jun 2021 10 July 2021 10 Jul 2021 $12,400 to $19,900 $12,400 to $19,900 Coral Discoverer Filling Fast Book

Your cruise price includes: 

  • An Australian Geographic Partnership Pack including souvenir expedition jacket and hat
  • All excursions, including hiking, kayaking, glass bottom boat, snorkelling and introductory scuba session, (with the exclusion of selected optional museum entry fees and scuba diving)
  • Presentations, briefings & workshops by our highly experienced Expedition Team
  • All meals, with morning and afternoon tea
  • Selected beers, wines, spirits, juices & soft drinks with lunch and dinner service, and 24-hour tea and coffee
  • Post-cruise transfers
  • Open bridge access and engine room tours
  • All fees & gratuities


What’s not included:

  • Travel insurance
  • Scuba diving rates
  • Alcoholic drinks including beer and wine outside of lunch and dinner service
  • Internet services (available at a cost)
  • Laundry service (available at a cost)
  • Australian entry visas or travel permits
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to phone and internet communications and bar charges (outside of the included drinks package as highlighted) laundry charges and souvenir purchases

Tipping not required:

Other cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your account and service charges to your bar invoices. On Coral Discoverer, our crew has no other agenda than your delight

Our friendly reservations specialists are on hand to assist with your booking arrangements to ensure your holiday runs as smoothly as possible. Contact our team on 1800 079 545 during business hours in Australia or email


Comprehensive Travel Insurance is strongly recommended for all travellers as protection against any unforeseen events that may necessitate the cancellation or interruption of your holiday and should be purchased at the same time as you purchase your cruise. Please refer to our Pre-Departure page for facts that should be considered and shared when speaking with Travel Insurance suppliers.

Additional Information: