Brochures Brochures
1800 079 545 Australia +61 7 4040 9999
Coral Expeditions Mobile menu

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 leading research experts onboard, 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


Citizen Science GBR - Brisbane to Cairns - 10 Nights


Arrive at Brisbane Cruise Terminal, Hamilton at 8:00am, where there is time to settle into your stateroom before our 9:00am departure. There will be a light breakfast available upon boarding. Take the time to become acquainted with all the facilities onboard and mingle with fellow guests and crew before Captain’s Welcome Drinks this evening.

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 processes 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.

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 Nurture Program projects and learn how the corals are planted and rejuvenated. We will also enjoy kayaking, snorkelling, diving, and citizen science activities.

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 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 Guide and witness this extraordinary ecosystem up close. The 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

Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom

Private Balcony - 20m2

Last Stateroom

Promenade Deck (Category A)

Picture Window - 18m2


Promenade Deck (Category B)

Picture Window - 15m2

Fully Booked

Main Deck (Category A)

Rectangle Windows - 18m2

Last Staterooms

Main Deck (Category B)

Porthole Windows - 18m2

Fully Booked
Book this Departure

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
  • Expedition diary, along with a photo and video gallery documenting the highlights of your 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)


Coral Discoverer is exceptionally nimble and manoeuvrable, with a shallow draught to get up close to destinations. Much loved by loyal Xplorers for its truly intimate onboard atmosphere, Coral Discoverer carries a maximum of 72 guests. More About Coral Discoverer >

Travel Insurance is not included in your cruise fare. We highly recommend all guests to obtain comprehensive travel insurance with remote area evacuation coverage. Please refer to our Pre-Cruise Checklist page for facts that should be considered and shared when speaking with Travel Insurance suppliers regarding travel insurance.

At Coral Expeditions dining is a celebration of great food and good company enjoyed in extraordinary destinations. People and place are key to enjoyable dining experiences, where food becomes the vehicle for conversation and creating memorable occasions.

We now offer two wine selections that guests may purchase in addition to our new house selection of wines. These packages showcase contemporary choices of Australian wines and French Champagne. More About Cuisine & Wine >

  • A Taste of Australia Selection | 6 Bottles | $280.00
  • Connoisseur Selection | 6 Bottles | $400.00

Our Cruise Collection Merchandise including expedition gear is also available for purchase in our onboard gift shop. View our Cruise Collection here >

When it comes time for the exciting time of packing for your cruise, our packing lists are available to assist you. More specific information regarding weather conditions in your destination will be included in your Cruise Documentation which you will receive prior to your cruise.

Find your Great Barrier Reef expedition packing list here.

Most walks are leisurely strolls along beaches, however, there are some more strenuous walks on offer Middle Percy West Bay Guided Walk, Fitzroy Island Secret Garden, Nudey Beach or Lighthouse Road/Summit Track.

An alternative excursion will always be offered in place of higher impact walks. The Expedition Team will advise walking conditions and requirements prior to each excursion. Should you have any physical limitations or mobility issues, please notify our reservations team in advance prior to your departure.

There will be multiple swimming/snorkelling opportunities on this itinerary at Lady Elliot Island, Heron Island, Middle Percy Island, Daydream Island, Orpheus Island, Fitzroy Island, Sudbury Cay, Ribbon Reefs and Agincourt Reef (subject to weather conditions). These opportunities are a guide and not all are guaranteed.

Scuba diving is offered on this itinerary - For more information view our Snorkel & Dive Information page.

  • Cairns: Reef to Rainforest – Peter Jarver
  • The Great Barrier Reef – James Bowen & Margarita Bowen
  • The Great Barrier Reef – Len Zell
  • Endeavour: The Ship and the attitude that changed the world – Peter Moore
  • A Life Underwater – Charlie Veron

Cairns Post Cruise Transfer: A complimentary transfer is provided to CBD hotels or the airport. We recommend allowing sufficient time to arrive for your flight in the event of any delays in disembarkation. Transfers to the Northern Beaches and Port Douglas can be arranged onboard with the purser (at a cost) if not already arranged prior to embarkation.

We want to ensure that your journey with us is smooth and hassle-free. To help you prepare for your cruise, refer to our Pre-Cruise Checklist for more detailed information on the milestones leading up to your voyage.

Articles You Might Be Interested In

GBR Legacy - Citizen Science - Woody (25)

Creating a Legacy on the Great Barrier Reef

Best Day on Expedition: Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef Clown fish

Top 5 Underwater Photography Tips

Cairns Arrival Day 11 - Citizen Science Voyage

Voyage Log: Citizen Science On The Great Barrier Reef 2021

Accommodation Nearby

Cairns-Pullman Cairns International

Pullman Cairns International

Cairns-Pullman Reef Hotel & Casino

Pullman Reef Hotel & Casino

Cairns-Novotel Oasis Cairns Resort

Novotel Oasis Cairns Resort

Cairns-Doubletree by Hilton Hotel

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel

Other itineraries You May Be Interested In

Nares Point, Kimberley with Coral Expeditions

The Kimberley Cruise

Departs Broome & Darwin | 10 Nights

The shallow draft and high maneuvrability of our purpose-designed expedition ships let us get closer on coastal adventures to explore the sheltered bays and hidden inlets inaccessible to larger ships.

Outerknown Adventures on the Great Barrier Reef 

Cairns to Cairns | 7 Nights

Subscribe to Be Among The First To Know

Sign up to join our community and be notified of new releases, special offers & behind the scenes articles.