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Citizen Science On The Great Barrier Reef

Cairns to Cairns14 nightsAll InclusiveFrom $12,130.00* PP

Coral Expeditions announces the next edition of the ‘Citizen Science’ series as we undertake an immersive scientific expedition exploring the outer reefs and unique marine ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef, in partnership with Australian Geographic. Departing Cairns with only 66 guests and researchers, our small expedition ship Coral Discoverer will visit remote reefs and wildlife habitats in the Coral Sea.

Learn about marine conservation work at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island as you meet with resident scientists at work along the way. Travel with a community of conservation-minded explorers and special guest lecturer Adam Smith of Reef Ecologic, who will share his extensive scientific and ecological knowledge. Gain access to far reaching and rarely visited atolls and reefs such as Holmes, Tregrosse and Diamond Reefs while contributing to conservation programs including biodiversity databases. Explore the historic Foam shipwreck with a senior maritime archeologist. Combine environmental impact and an expedition holiday on this hands-on journey of science and conservation.

  • Gain valuable insights from onboard Master Reef Guide Katie Tuesley and expert host Adam Smith who will share scientific and conservation knowledge of the reef and its many species
  • Learn about the important mission and work of Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island
  • Meet with resident scientific researchers at Lizard Island Research Station to learn about projects that are making a difference in the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea Marine Park
  • Contribute your observations of native birds to BirdLife Australia, an ever-growing collection of bird observations that track, record and share biodiversity knowledge
  • 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
  • Snorkel and dive at John Brewer Reef, home to the largest installation of Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA)
  • Dive and snorkel in clear waters at remote Holmes, Tregrosse and Diamond reefs to encounter a wide variety of marine life
  • Receive a Citizen Science exclusive Expedition Jacket



Cairns wharf departure port

Arrive at Trinity Wharf (berth to be advised) at 4:00pm, where there is time to settle into your stateroom before our 5:00pm departure. Take the time to become acquainted with all the facilities onboard before joining your fellow explorers on the Sun Deck for Captains Welcome Drinks.

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 non-profit 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.


This afternoon, enjoy more spectacular diving and snorkelling opportunities at Mackay Reef. The shallow and protected reef is home to many sea turtles, giant clams, fish and vibrant coral gardens of soft and hard varieties.  Enjoy the pristine underwater conditions and wildlife sightings while participating in citizen science field programs.

Lizard Island

Visit the Lizard Island Research Station, operated by the Australian Museum to facilitate coral reef research and education on the Great Barrier Reef. Additionally, take in the beauty of the island on a 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, relax on the white-sand beach beneath shady she oak trees and learn about the tragic story surrounding Mary Watson.

Learn more about Lizard Island >

Osprey Reef Diving

One of the world’s best dive sites, Osprey Reef is a submerged atoll in the Coral Sea. The top of a mountain which rises from the seafloor, surrounded by a vast ocean, it draws many beautiful and rare marine creatures to its plummeting walls. Called an ‘oasis for living creatures of all kinds’ by Sir David Attenborough, the vibrant corals and crystal-clear waters make it an unforgettable place to discover. Here we will spend time in the water exploring the 30m deep lagoon and drift diving the walls, where you may see large pelagic fish, rays and sharks drawn in from the surrounding deep blue to enjoy the richness of this ocean oasis.


Located to the west of Cairns, Holmes Reef is a remote reef home to colourful corals and diverse marine life. Jump in for a wall dive on Golden Wall, The Cathedral and The Abyss that all drop 1km deep. Snorkel to see two giant pinnacles that host a beautiful array of soft corals and reef fish, sharks, stingrays and turtles with nature interpretation from our expert team. Enjoy the pristine underwater conditions and wildlife sightings while participating in citizen science field programs.

Coral Watch Program

Herald Cay is a natural paradise located some 200 nautical miles eastward into the Coral Sea from Townsville and Cairns. It featured in a scientific study conducted by the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland in 1977, which uncovered a total of 125 wildlife species. Along fringing white sand beaches, spy hermit crabs and large numbers of juvenile red-footed booby terns overhead. Dive, snorkel and nature walk to view birdlife and enjoy the serenity of this remote location while participating in citizen science field programs.

Outerknown Turtle

Here, the bright blue waters surround the sandy cay with its scraggy green top commonly swarming with sea birds. This wildlife haven is home to sociable hermit crabs and turtle sightings are common. On our visit here, dive, snorkel, beachcomb and climb the navigation tower for an elevated view of this wild and remote seascape.

Magnetic Island

With a unique biodiversity, bushland walks and granite boulders, Magnetic Island is a true nature lover’s paradise. Interestingly, the island earned its name from Lt James Cook in 1770 when he believed the Endeavor’s magnetic compass was affected by the island. On our visit here, enjoy beachcombing on the stretches of sandy beach, spot koala’s in the trees and enjoy nature walks.

MOUA - Museum of Underwater Art

Home to the largest installation of the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) created by artist Jason DeCaires Taylor, the reef is a unique diving opportunity. The 25 sculptures made of pH neutral materials to support coral growth shares a message of reef conservation and restoration. On our visit here, snorkel, dive and participate in citizen science field programs.

Snorkel - Citizen Science

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.

Yamacutta Reef

Yamacutta Reef lies approximately 50km off the coast of Mission Beach. The isolated reef offers panoramic blue horizon views. On our visit here, explore the clear waters that teem with marine life by snorkelling, diving and kayaking while participating in citizen science field programs.

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.

Cairns wharf departure port

Arrive at Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal at 7:30am for disembarkation at 8:00am. Post cruise transfers to Cairns CBD and airport are available while transfers to the Northern Beaches or Port Douglas can be arranged on board with the Purser prior to disembarkation.

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

We began the day with a delicious breakfast then were quickly on our way across for a fabulous snorkel from the shore of the deserted sand cay. We slowly made our way to the water with Paul leading a guided snorkel for those interested. Truly a special treat to be shown the reef by an absolute expert. For those who preferred a rest onboard we had a transfer back to the ship. Others stayed on the cay and enjoyed some tea and coffee then went back in the water for another swim around. The more you looked, the better the coral got!
- Expedition Leader Richard, Citizen Science Expedition 2021

Fares & Availability

Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom

Private Balcony - 20m2

Fully Booked

Promenade Deck (Category A)

Picture Window - 18m2

7 Available

Promenade Deck (Category B)

Picture Window - 15m2

Fully Booked

Main Deck (Category A)

Rectangle Windows - 18m2

1 Available

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
  • Your expedition photos captured during the 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 travelling 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 souvenir purchases
  • Optional Extras (in some destinations)
More Information

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Accommodation Nearby

Cairns-Pullman Cairns International

Pullman Cairns International

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Pullman Reef Hotel & Casino

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Novotel Oasis Cairns Resort

Cairns-Doubletree by Hilton Hotel

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel

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