O.U.C.H. Volunteers

The Order of Underwater Coral Heroes…

…is a non-profit organisation of volunteers dedicated to the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, the largest and most diverse reef system on the planet. The reef is under growing pressure from all sides; pollution, coastal development, overfishing, mining, climate change and more. The OUCH Volunteers are based in the Whitsundays, the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Since 1994, OUCH has been working hard to protect the reef through a number of practical, on the ground projects that include:

Protected Species Habitats of the Whitsundays

The Whitsunday region of Queensland is a natural wonderland of rainforests, beautiful beaches, uninhabited islands and amazing coral reefs. This region is a wonderful place to live. But we share the Whitsundays with a remarkable biodiversity that includes many very special marine plant and animal species… special in that many of these species are now considered vulnerable, even endangered and have been listed by the government as protected species. As a community we have a responsibility to protect our vulnerable and endangered plants and animals.

The OUCH Volunteers, with the support of a Caring for Our Country Grant, have created the Protected Marine Species Habitat of the Whitsundays Project, with the purpose of helping the Whitsunday community protect our most vulnerable natural wonders. It should be noted that habitat loss is the most widespread cause of species decline. This site features interactive Google maps of the habitats that support our marine protected species, information about the species that depend on each habitat and links to much more information on other websites. It can be used by any and all members of the community to learn about and better manage our protected species.

What are protected species?

A protected species is a plant or animal that is protected by law because it needs special management to avoid further decline. Today, the need for protection is most often directly attributable to loss of habitat. In the Whitsundays we have a number of protected marine species that include; mangroves, seagrasses, dugongs, sea turtles, cetaceans, seabirds and shorebirds and some species of fish.

Why is habitat so important?

Habitat is the space that a species needs to live, grow and reproduce. Habitat provides all of us with food, water, living space and shelter. If we significantly change, or even remove, a specie's habitat, we force the species that live there to either adapt or move on. Unfortunately, most species require many years to adapt and if too much habitat is destroyed, there is nowhere to move on to. The important coastal marine habitats of the Whitsundays include mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and fringing coral reefs.

How can we best protect our critical marine habitats?

Everybody has an important role to play in protecting our critical marine habitat, from the Federal Government right down to the local community. The obvious first step is to identify the habitat and the species that depend on it. We invite you to explore this website and discover the coastal habitats of the Whitsunday region, and the amazing protected marine species that they support.