In late 2021, Madeina was a part of an all-female team of researchers that set sail on a week-long expedition to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) to trial methods for monitoring its health.
On the trip, 15 women from JCU, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, the local tourism industry and the Torres Strait community surveyed 120 sites across 45 reefs as part of the Great Reef Census. Madeina says she feels honoured to have been a part of an expedition that highlighted the contribution women are making to reef research.
“I’m very grateful that the Reef Women expedition gave me the opportunity to work outside of the Torres Strait and learn from other scientists,” she says. “There were a lot of women from different fields; everybody brought different things to the table, and it was a privilege to get to work with them and share their knowledge.”
On board, Madeina found JCU Researcher Dr Karen Joyce’s work with drones to be particularly inspiring. Karen uses drones to map ecosystems from the sky.
“As part of the research, we were looking at sea cucumber populations. Karen had no prior knowledge of sea cucumbers, but she has the droning and mapping background, and I know about sea cucumbers from my work in the Torres Strait. So, while I was telling her about the different species, she was teaching me how to use drones for mapping and I had the chance to practice flying them,” Madeina says.
Since then, Madeina has found a passion for using drones to monitor the marine environment and hopes to pursue drone mapping in the future.
“Moving forward, I don’t want to stick to one field. The Reef Women expedition showed me that working with drones means being able to map a lot of different things,” she says.
“I was very inspired by Karen’s work. I hope that in the future I’ll be doing work with drone mapping; I’d love to survey dugong populations but also map coral reefs and map seagrass meadows. I want to do a bit of everything, and the opportunities for ecosystem mapping seem endless with drone technology.”