Research and Awards
The Great Barrier Reef Aquarium is the National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef.
20180511 PT tank Reef HQ Aquarium 19 Great Barrier Reef Aquarium - Townsville - Queensland - Australia

Research and Awards

The Great Barrier Reef Aquarium is the Australian Government’s National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef and is recognised nationally and internationally as a centre of excellence in environmental education. The education programs provide a highly efficient mechanism for influencing community perceptions about the Reef at all levels (local, regional, national, and international). For many years, we have been instrumental in the delivery of educational programs, enabling the Reef Authority to achieve its strategic policy outcomes as outlined in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975.

In the past, we have offered a a variety of educational experiences for tourists, school groups (primary through tertiary) and study tours (national, international). 

To date these programs have delivered virtual reef education messages to over 980 locations (542 in Australia and 438 internationally) and 105,000 people and face to face to more than 4.4 million visitors to the Aquarium.

Promoting Reef science is a key element of the Aquarium. The facility has established relationships with 18 overseas universities. Our research and animal husbandry programs has achieved regional, national, and international recognition including:

  • the only Australian education facility (in 2018-19) to win the Centre for Interactive Learning and Collaboration ( Pinnacle Award, our 11th wins out of 12 entries
  • world firsts in captive breeding, with our olive sea snakes reproducing over successive years and our Leopard Sharks reproducing through parthenogenesis (no male DNA, female reproducing on its own)
  • contributions to numerous scientific publications through supporting research
  • 13 CILC Pinnacle Awards, plus one honourable mention
  •  UNESCO Albert Einstein Gold Medal in recognition of its outstanding contribution to the conservation of world heritage and to the advancement of environmental education


The Great Barrier Reef Aquarium aims to contribute to scientific research. Thanks to its large marine tanks, it is an ideal position to support research institutions and industry partners in their projects. Ultimately, this helps to provide a sustainable research platform to increase our knowledge of the marine environment, makes science and innovation to the community, and aims for a better protection and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef.

Researchers regularly contact Reef HQ Aquarium for specific projects, submit a proposal for collaboration which is assessed based on technical feasibility, requirements of staff time, expected output, and relevance of project to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority missions.

For more information, click here.

While the Aquarium is currently closed, we look forward to continuing this pivotal work when we reopen. 

Page published on: 16 May 2023

Page last updated on: 26 July 2023