Great Barrier Reef Census Expedition


Join us for a scientific expedition to the Ribbon Reefs

Our overnight vessel OceanQuest is setting off on a 7-night expedition to the Ribbon Reefs as part of the 2020 Great Reef Census, a ground-breaking citizen science project by Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef.

Don’t miss your chance to be part of the Great Reef Census and help capture crucial reconnaissance data by exploring these flourishing and rarely visited dive sites with us.

By day, you’ll be diving the reef, snapping pictures for the survey and marvelling at the diverse marine life of the Ribbon Reefs. In between dives, refuel with delicious meals freshly prepared by our onboard chef.

At night, settle into our comfortable air-conditioned saloon for Q&A sessions and presentations by marine biologists and special guest, environmentalist/model/presenter Laura Wells. Night dives (including our exclusive fluoro diving option) will be available on selected nights, conditions permitting.

This is a special opportunity to be part of a world first project. All you need to be part of the survey is a digital underwater camera and a buddy! We’ll talk you through what photos to capture and how to submit your data to the Census.

There are just 14 places available on this world first expedition. Reserve your place now to be part of the history of the Great Barrier Reef!

About the Great Reef Census

The largest reef ecosystem on earth, the Great Barrier Reef is 2,300km long, with more than 3,000 reefs. Only between five and 10 per cent of it is regularly surveyed.

The Great Reef Census is a project by Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, delivered in partnership with the University of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science with support from James Cook University, the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Tasmania. The project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Prior Family Foundation and the Reef & Rainforest Research Centre.

Find out more about the Great Reef Census

About the Ribbon Reefs

The Ribbon Reefs are a 120km string of 10 individual coral reefs located in the Coral Sea on the edge of the continental shelf, starting north of Cairns and Port Douglas and extending to the east of Lizard Island.

These reefs are out of reach of day trip vessels, and their remote location and Green ‘No Take’ zoning makes them some of the best dive sites on the entire Great Barrier Reef. Reef formations include enormous beds of plate corals, pinnacles and walls, channels and caves and shallow coral gardens, all home to a huge range of marine life.

During our Census expedition we’ll be exploring a range of reef sites between Ribbon 10 and Ribbon 2. We’re aiming to access as many locations as possible throughout this seven-night trip, but cannot guarantee we’ll be visiting any specific dive site.

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Monday 16 November - Monday 23 November 2020

Departure/Return Location:

Cruise Liner terminal, Trinity Wharf


7 nights


  • Visit the Ribbon Reefs
  • Minimum 3 dives per day
  • Minimum 2 night dives
  • Gift on arrival
  • All scuba equipment, including dive computer and air fills, with full tuition
  • Nitrox fills
  • PADI professional dive guides
  • Sharks in the Dark (on first night)
  • Accommodation (double and twin share cabins available)
  • All meals on board, plus a complimentary wine, beer or soft drink with dinner
  • Chilled drinking water, tea and coffee

Book Your Trip

Great Reef Census Expedition

Adult per person

​Includes all equipment and tuition. Prices valid from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. Taxes/Levies are per person, per day (subject to change without notice). Fee includes: Environmental Management Charge (EMC) $7. Fuel, Port, and Administration Charges $13.00. Sorry, this is an adults-only trip.



Monday 16 November

10.30am: Check in on board OceanQuest
11.30am: Vessel departs for the outer reef

During the first day you’ll have an afternoon dive to perfect your surveying technique, plus a night dive/Sharks in the Dark experience after dinner. In the evening we’ll set a course for the Ribbon Reefs.

Tuesday 17 – Sunday 22 November

Exploring Ribbon 10 to Ribbon 2 on the Ribbon Reefs

Monday 23 November

8am: Return to Cairns


Additional info


  • Soft drinks, alcohol and snacks
  • Quality souvenirs
  • Underwater camera hire
  • Fluoro diving (must be prebooked)

What to bring

  • Hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Swimsuit and towel
  • Your GoPro or underwater camera (we’ll have a limited number of cameras available for hire)
  • Overnight bag with changes of clothing, including warm clothing and socks for overnight wear
  • Toiletries

Excess luggage can be stored at our office at 319 Draper Street, Cairns.

Medical/Altitude Info

All scuba participants must meet medical questionnaire requirements. Some conditions or medications may prevent you from diving.

Currently the rules state that for a single no decompression dive, you should not fly/go to altitude for at least 12 hours, or 18 hours after multiple dives. Divers Den recommends waiting a minimum 24 hours whenever possible. These are guidelines only, there is no guarantee that these recommendations will prevent decompression sickness. There are no current guidelines regarding diving after flying.

Altitude is defined as 300m/1000ft above sea level. This includes going to the Atherton Tablelands (a popular local scenic attraction), so be careful if booking tours to follow your dive trip.