Articles

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Understanding the management and governance of Australia’s vast coastline can be complex. International, Commonwealth, State and Indigenous entities all have various roles and powers to promote the health and integrity of Australia’s marine environments.

[Quick links:  Maps to help you get started  -  Links to Indigenous Sea country Management Plans]

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In partnership with the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife, Western Australian Marine Science Institution scientists on the Australian Institute of Marine Science vessel RV Solander recently spent 15 days in the field collecting data to help determine what flatback sea turtles in north-western Australia eat.
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Flatback sea turtles (Natator depressus) are endemic to northern Australia and one of only two sea turtle species that are not distributed globally (7 species in total). Nesting occurs only on tropical Australian beaches, many in NW Australia’s remote Kimberley region.

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See what's happening during biodiversity month in Australia's unique north west marine region.
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Bardi-Jawi Marine Rangers partner with marine scientists to research fish and coral recruitment processes in the Kimberley.
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Scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO and the WA Museum continue their exploration of the tropical waters of north-west Australia’s remote Kimberley region.
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The ocean's colour is a reflection of its composition. Researchers, currently at sea, are measuring Kimberley seawater to see how accurately remote measurements (e.g. satellite imagery) reflect ocean composition.
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In a remote marine environment, dominated by gushing tides and swirling waters, diverse and unique marine communities have remained hidden until now…
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Coral reefs in north west Australia provide the perfect opportunity to study the effects of warming events in a region not heavily impacted by humans.
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Marine scientists are supercharging marine research using remote sensing technologies and increased computing power to reveal secrets from one of the most remote and pristine marine regions in Australia.
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Dr Radford explains how he uses sound to explore and map deeper 'hidden' coral reefs of the Timor Sea. It is only recently that these reefs have started to be documented. Many remain undiscovered.
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Research into Australia's north west oceanic shoals have found them to support exceptional species diversity with fish richness greater than that found on similar submerged reefs on the Great Barrier Reef.
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As part of the NERP TE project 2.3 temperature loggers were deployed at 15 sites across the Torres Strait to measure ocean temperature. The loggers regularly (every 10 minutes) measure the sea water temperature and record it in their memory. Every year or so the loggers are swapped with new loggers and the recorded data is extracted and recorded in the AIMS Real Time Data Systems database as part of the Australia wide Sea Temperature Observing System.

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This article shows a range of BRUVS footage taken on the North West Shelf of Australia, including Barracuda Shoal, Eugene McDermott, Shoal 25, Vulcan Shoal and Wave Governor Bank Shoal.
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The last decade in north Queensland has seen a striking contrast of summers of below median rainfall (2002-2006) and ‘big wets’ (2007-2012). The run of relatively dry summers, followed by the years of high summer rainfall created perfect conditions for researchers to study the effects of river runoff on water clarity in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) lagoon.

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This animation shows the locations of Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) outbreaks as measured over the last 30 years.

This animation shows that the COTS outbreaks tend to travel down the coast taking almost 15 years to move from the initiation area north of Cairns to finally reach and dissipate off the reefs offshore from to the Whitsundays.

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Corals have an interesting life cycle and spend part of their lives floating around in the sea and part of their lives stuck to the reef. Adult corals are actually colonies made up of many organisms called polyps.
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Pesticides from agricultural sources have been detected throughout the year in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (RRMMP). Australia has strict standards and monitoring to limit the amount of pesticides allowed in food products. However, the fate and impact on the environment of toxic chemicals applied to crops is less well known.

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The crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) (Acanthaster planci) feeds almost exclusively on hard corals and is endemic to coral reef ecosystems throughout the Indo-Pacific (Birkeland 1990). These large starfish are covered in sharp toxic spines and once grown have few natural predators. Over their lifetime they can produce 100’s of millions of eggs that have the highest fertilisation rate recorded for any spawning marine species. The pelagic larvae produced from spawning can float in the water column for weeks before settlement and can easily travel large distances between reefs.

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The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is currently experiencing a 4th wave of crown-of-thorns seastar (Acanthaster planci) infestations since the 1960’s. The seastars are spreading rapidly with reefs from Lizard Island to Cairns suffering massive coral mortality. The race is on again to learn more about the biology of COTS and fund some smart science to develop strategies that will miminise the coral loss caused by the voracious coral predator.

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