Sonic Reef is a call to action to protect the Great Barrier Reef, one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. This immersive sound installation launched at World Science Festival 2017 and draws on scientific recordings from the reef that showcase the value of sound in understanding ecosystem health. Sonic Reef is a research project led by Dr Leah Barclay and developed in collaboration with the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, Australian Marine Conservation Society, JASCO Applied Sciences and a team of passionate artists, scientists and conservationists.
Sonic Reef is realised as an augmented reality 3D audio installation accessible via mobile phones. The hydrophone recordings from the reef are weaved with community interviews and creative responses that make the changing acoustic ecologies of the Great Barrier Reef accessible and engaging. The recordings are contributing to ongoing scientific research using sound to monitor the health of the reef.
After launching at the 2017 World Science Festival Brisbane as part of the 100 Ways to Listen curatorial program, Sonic Reef was invited to feature at the 2017 Smithsonian Earth Optimism Summit in Washington, DC where the sounds of the Great Barrier Reef were planted throughout the Smithsonian and iconic public spaces throughout DC. Over 3000 people experienced the installation in 2017 and it featured at multiple festivals throughout 2018 and 2019.
The acoustic database from Sonic Reef has also contributed towards Barclay’s other aquatic ecology projects such as ‘Hydrology’ (2017), ‘Migration Patterns: Saltwater’ (2017) and ‘Requiem for the Reef’ (2018).