the keppel islands

extraordinary reefs

Science, local knowledge, and natural beauty on the southern Great Barrier Reef.

Barren Island, Keppel Bay © Ray Berkelmans.

The Keppels region


Islands, rocks and dive sites



Islands and rocks


Best dive sites 

Keppels first bleaching in 14 years

In February 2020, the first bleaching event in 14 years occurred in the Keppel Islands. The corals mainly affected were the fast-growing branching corals that live in the shallow waters fringing the islands. While many see this as a devastating event, a new study...

Keppels bleaching 2020

Coral bleaching occurs when reef building corals shed their tiny algae to relieve stress and to increase their chances of survival. This spectacular aerial image of bleached branching corals at Big Peninsular was taken by Max Allen Jnr from Freedom Fastcats. Keppel...

Patchy coral bleaching observed Monkey Reef

If you’re visiting Monkey Reef off Great Keppel Island this week, you may see patches of bleached or seemingly dead corals. After a run of days with light winds and water temperatures peaking during the mid afternoons above 28 degrees C in the last 3 weeks, the...

Keppel Islands lunar bleaching?

Corals at Monkey Beach reef off Great Keppel Island were exposed to the air during the spring low tides at around 3am and 3pm on the 28th and 29th of September 2019. These extreme 'spring' low and high tides occur monthly at the time of the New Moon but only the...

The opportunists of the sea

Coral will grow just about anywhere! This diver's mask lay submerged for months and has become home to sponges, soft corals, turf algae, macro algae and what looks like a cyanobacteria. It shows how opportunistic marine animals and plants can be.  

Tuskfish uses rock to crack open cockle shell

Scott Gardner was returning from an 18-metre dive in the Keppels on 12 November 2006 when he heard a cracking noise.

Ferocious Pufferfish filmed at Pelican Island

Aptly named for its random attacks on humans, this giant Ferocious Puffer fish didn’t seem so fierce at the time. It was not camera-shy and seemed to enjoy our pats and attention.

Crustose coralline algae

Crustose coralline algae are rock-hard, calcareous red algae that fulfill two key functional roles in coral reef ecosystems.

Fluorescing corals turn out to be bleached

Pinned on Pete’s dive shop wall were faded colour photos of the coral reef flat around the Middle Island Underwater Observatory at low tide. Every round, pin-cushion-shaped coral colony was a different shade of pale pink, blue, purple and yellow, like a Ken Done...

From dive-shop girl to research scientist

I developed an insatiable need to see the reefs, to learn about their intricate complexity and the factors that drive them.

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