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Marine Biologist for a Day


Sunlover's highly regarded Marine Biologist for a Day is a Citizen Science program for groups of amateur and serious environmentalists (not just school students) who come from all over the world to enjoy a very special underwater classroom on our Moore Reef Marine Base on the Outer Great Barrier Reef.

The program is an in-depth educational experience linked to the Australian School Curriculum created and conducted by our team of marine experts including two Master Reef Guides. Topics include reef ecology, climate change, marine life identification, and predators such as Crown of Thorns starfish.

During the day participants are led on a 45 minute Guided Snorkel Safari (which is suitable for non-swimmers as you are led on a buoyant ring), where students fill out a ‘Rapid Monitoring Survey’, which uses a monitoring slate to record health observations on aspects of the reef. This includes identifying marine creatures, analysing coral health and looking for signs of environmental impacts. This data is then inputted directly to the “Eye on the Reef” program run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

Reef enthusiasts are also educated on the various sea creatures that inhabit Moore Reef, environmental aspects that impact on the reef and how they can lower their carbon footprint in their everyday lives.

For a truly standout educational experience in the world's best classroom, try our Marine Biologist for a Day + Astronomer for a Night program, which includes a night in swags in the middle of the outer Great Barrier Reef to learn about the Southern Hemisphere's night skies. Read about our lucky first students here.

Please note this experience requires a minimum booking of 10 people. Contact us to find out more.
Departs Daily from Cairns Marina
  • 9:00am - Boarding commences
  • 9:30am - Depart Cairns Marina
  • 9.45am - Safety briefing and introduction to the daily program
  • 10.00 am - Introduction to the Eye on the Reef program and how to complete the Rapid Monitoring Survey. Exclusive presentation by one of our Marine Naturalists / Master Reef Guides.
  • 11:30am - Arrival at Moore Reef Marine Base
  • Guided Snorkel Safari of the reef while completing the Rapid Monitoring Survey
  • While one group is snorkeling the remaining students can enjoy our other activities including:
  • Semi-submersible tour
  • Glass bottom boat tour
  • Underwater observatory presentation
  • Free time to enjoy the Sunlover Sunslide waterslide or other activities
  • 12 - 1:30pm - Tropical buffet lunch with prawns available
  • 2:45pm - Touch tank presentation
  • 3:00pm - Fish feeding presentation
  • 3:30pm - Depart Moore Reef Marine Base
  • 4:00pm - Question and answer session and certificate of participation presented to students
  • 5:30pm - Arrival at Cairns Marina
*Times are approximate

Included Activities


More Care for our Reef

Eco Certified Tourism

Sunlover is an Eco Certified Tourism operator, awarded by Ecotourism Australia (EA) and because we have held this status for 15 years we are now an accredited Green Travel Leader.  This certification means we have met specific criteria relating to environmental sustainability and culturally responsible tourism.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)

GBRMPA is the Australian government body that manages and protects the Great Barrier Reef.  Sunlover has been recognised as a High Standard Tourist Operator by GBRMPA and we work closely with them in a number of ways:

National Park (Green) Zone

Our Moore Reef Marine Base is part of the ‘Marine National Park (Green) Zones’ as defined by GBRMPA.  This means that no marine life or corals may be taken from the area, however we are permitted to conduct water activities in the area.  GBRMPA undertook this zoning as it has been identified that no-take areas provide a refuge for protected species, boost species numbers and, protect spawning and nursery grounds.

Eye on the Reef

Eye on the Reef is a monitoring and assessment program.  We monitor our Moore and Arlington Reef sites for signs of changes to the environment.  We also show guests how to complete the Eye on the Reef Rapid Monitoring Survey through our Marine Biologist for a Day citizen science program, which directly contributes to the collection of information about reef health.

Crown of Thorns Starfish

The starfish are a predator of live coral, and unless actively managed can cause significant damage to coral reefs. We applied and received a permit in 2013 at the outset of the eradication program to allow us to actively participate in the suppression of the Crown of Thorns starfish.  

Master Reef Guides Program

The Master Reef Guide program was developed to educate our visitors about the reef environment and protection. Master Reef Guides are recognised as the world’s leading reef guides, interpreters and story tellers sharing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. These reef ambassadors can provide up to date information on the Reef, share stories of the magical World Heritage Area and explain what you can do to make a difference. Our Marine Biologist, Pablo Cogollos was selected and intensively trained to graduate as one of the very first Master Reef Guides, with Marine Naturalist Luke Smith graduating in the second cohort.  We are committed to providing ongoing support to our expert crew in achieving this status. If you see Pablo or Luke on board, feel free to ask them any questions you have about the reef.

Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

The Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (CTRC) is a voluntary non-profit organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation turtles.  At the rehabilitation centres based on Fitzroy Island and the Cairns Aquarium, sick and injured turtles are nurtured back to health. Educational tours are available daily at both locations.

As long-time supporters of the centre, Sunlover not only played a part in the initial set up of the centre through donations and fundraising, we are also committed to playing an ongoing role in its success through fundraising efforts, transport of volunteers, and assisting with turtle releases from our Moore Reef Marine Base.

Citizens of the Reef

As a founding Citizens Circle Member, Sunlover is a proud supporter of the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef – “the world’s first collaborative and independent movement for the Reef”. Uniting interested parties from across the globe, this initiative is designed to inspire a collective approach to ensuring the longevity of the reef.

Environmental Management Charge

Did you know that you are making an important contribution towards the protection of the Great Barrier Reef?

An Environmental Management Charge of $6.50 from your ticket to our Moore Reef or Arlington Reef Marine Bases is given to the federal government to assist the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), in monitoring, managing and protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

As well as participation in these major environmental initiatives, we continually challenge ourselves as a business to make changes to negate our impact on the environment. For example, we were industry leaders in banishing straws as part of the Straw no More initiative, the first an only reef operator to stock Great Barrier Reef Beer from the Good Beer Co who donate 10% of proceeds to marine conservation and we recently sent two of the Sunlover team to join Al Gore at a Climate Reality Leadership Corps training event.



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