Articles

Published on
Global populations of green (IUCN listing endangered) and hawksbill (IUCN listing critically endangered) turtles are declining due to a range of threats. Australia supports some of the largest rookeries (nesting sites) for these turtles in the Indo-Pacific. Even though they've been much studied, most data that shows where these turtles spend their time around Australia remains unpublished. This is a problem because there are many coastal and offshore activities such as mining, commercial fishing and pollution that may threaten these species. In order to protect them, we need to know the areas that are important to them; the areas where they spend time during the nesting season, their migratory routes and the areas where they forage (feed). In the absence of hard data, the Australian Government have previously designated Habitat Critical Areas as part of the Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles and Biologically Important Areas based on expert scientific knowledge. Here, we set out to quantify and map the important areas that turtles use to help refine these protected areas and assist with turtle conservation management.
Published on
The Silver Lipped Oyster, Pinctada maxima, forms the basis of a historical fishery in tropical Western Australia, estimated to be worth $A61 million in 2013. This fishery supplies pearl and mother of pearl markets through wild harvest of P. maxima stock, augmented more recently with aquaculture. Eighty Mile Beach is a key harvesting area, where P. maxima is reported to occur at depths from 8-40 metres. P. maxima is often found where the seabed is solid and hard and can support communities of filter feeders like sponges. Some reports, however, suggest that P. maxima can survive at depths of up to 120 metres (see p 39 in this report). Studies have shown that populations of P. maxima within the region are highly connected to one another. This raises the question of whether oysters located deeper than those safely visited by divers (beyond 30-40 metres) may help replenish stocks in shallower areas. At present, the extent to which P. maxima occurs at these depths (>40 metres) within the region near Eighty Mile Beach is poorly known.
Published on

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.

Published on
Bardi-Jawi Marine Rangers partner with marine scientists to research fish and coral recruitment processes in the Kimberley.
Published on
Data is now available for download from the AIMS Long Term Monitoring Program and the Marine Monitoring Programs.
Published on

Sponge taxonomy is difficult and challenging, it requires adequate laboratory facilities, experience and time, which are often not available. Moreover, not all habitats can be physically sampled (e.g. protected areas, deep sea), and for monitoring purposes video work is usually the preferred method. However, sponges cannot reliably be identified from imagery lacking samples, and therefore we recommend using growth forms as a quick classification. If the growth forms are described by clearly focusing on their function, they will represent environmental conditions, e.g.

Published on
Ocean currents are known to be the major mechanism by which the values across the entire northeast Australian seascape are both defined and connected. For example, by facilitating dispersal of larvae and particles (Wolanski, 2016) or the propagation of climate features (e.g. marine heatwaves that can cause coral bleaching).
Published on
Hard corals are foundational species on coral reefs. Through the production of calcium carbonate skeletons, hard corals create the physical substrate and three-dimensional structure that supports the vast diversity of organisms that comprise coral reef ecosystems.
Published on
Humpback whales are iconic megafauna that play a significant role in the northeast Australian seascape in ecological, cultural and economic contexts.
Published on

Tiger sharks have a worldwide distribution and although tending to be concentrated in tropical waters are also commonly found in temperate waters (Pepperell, 2010). They are found in all the project jurisdictions and, although they tend to frequent continental shelf waters are also known to take large-scale oceanic migrations (Holmes et al. 2014; Werry et al. 2014). Along the Australian east coast large-scale movements of tiger sharks through Torres Strait, the GBR and Great Sandy Strait are common (Werry et al. 2014).

Published on

What are mangroves and saltmarsh and why they are important?

Published on
In the past 50 years, four waves of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks have had a major impact on the many reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef. These began in 1962, 1979, 1993 and 2009 with each wave lasting about 15 years
Published on
Macrolgae, commonly called seaweeds, are marine plants that photosynthesize, but reproduce without flowers (seagrasses are an example of a marine flowering plant). Macroalgae are visible to the naked eye (in contrast to microalgae), and generally grow attached to the seabed or reef substrate.
Published on
Seagrasses are marine plants found in estuaries, reefs and deep water environments throughout the northeast Australian seascape. They form meadows that provide nutrient-rich habitat for many animals, for example, sea cucumbers, fish, urchins, marine turtles, dugongs, sharks and rays all use seagrass meadows at some time during their life cycle.
Published on

What is Crustose coralline algae and why it is important?

Published on
Coastal she-oaks (Casuarina equisetifolia) are an evergreen tree (6 to 20m high) found on coastal sand dunes, beach fronts in sands alongside estuaries and behind fore-dunes, and on gentle lower hills/headlands. Other common names include beach casuarina, beach she-oak or whistling tree.
Published on

Pisonia; or Birdlime Tree (due to the fact that at times nesting birds become covered with the sticky fruits).

On coral cays, pisonia forests are tolerant of temporary saltwater and freshwater inundations and can tolerate full water lenses and waterlogged conditions better than other woody competitors. Pisonia are, however, prone to shed branches during storms; the fallen trees and/or branches sprout and revegetate the damaged forest areas. Pisonia wood is rather weak and soft and decays rapidly after the trees fall.

Published on

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) was listed as a World Heritage Area because of its Outstanding Universal Values. This website highlights the connectivity of these world heritage values between the Great Barrier Reef with the surrounding regions: the Coral Sea, Torres Strait and Hervey bay. Understanding this connectivity highlights the importance of co-management between these neighbouring regions where connectivity is strong.

Published on

Interactive map displays stereo-video imagery collected for the Barossa Environmental Baseline Study 2015, Western Australia. Click on the map below (i.e. the blue dots) to view short videos of the fish and benthos collected at each site. Two cameras were used to obtain accurate length measurements of the fish.

Published on

Environment Australia is tasked with managing the networks of Commonwealth Marine Reserves (CMRs). This is particularly challenging for the CMRs in the remote and poorly known N and NW regions, such as the Oceanic Shoals.

Pages