Articles

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We used data from satellite telemetry tags attached to six species of threatened and migratory marine megafauna across three taxonomic groups (marine turtles, whales and sharks) off the coast of north-western Australia to map their areas of use. We then compiled spatial data from a range of threats and overlayed species and threat maps to assess the level of exposure of the species to threats. In doing so we can identify areas where there is high exposure of species to threats, where risk assessments can be best directed with resulting management actions if needed in order to protect these species.
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We use genetics to estimate how far and wide oyster larvae can disperse to assist in setting biologically relevant spatial boundaries and harvest limits for oysters.
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To assist in recovery of the population, spatial areas of importance to pygmy blue whales, known as Biologically Important Areas (BIA), have been identified by the Australian Government. The AIMS team and collaborators Centre for Whale Research and Curtin University set out to reduce uncertainty in identifying where important foraging areas for this species and their migration pathways and distribution exist, and the extent to which they overlap with anthropogenic activities by deploying satellite tags.
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Key Ecological Features (KEFs) are parts of the marine ecosystem considered to be of particular importance for either a region's biodiversity or its ecosystem function and integrity. 13 KEFs have been defined for Australia’s North-west Marine Region, including the ‘Ancient Coastline at 125m depth contour’ (AC125). The AC125 is thought to “provide areas of hard substrate and therefore may provide sites for higher diversity and enhanced species richness relative to surrounding areas of predominantly soft sediment.” Little is known about what habitats exist on the sea floor in the AC125. Part of the reason is that the AC125 is very deep, and thus difficult to observe. The North West Shoals to Shore Research Program took underwater photographs and video of the seafloor to better understand each AC125 Area within its local context.
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This site provides an introduction to cumulative impacts on coral reefs and outlines some of the latest research into understanding the interactive effects of these impacts and which affect different coral types the most.   
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The information in this eco-narrative forms an initial characterisation of the physical, oceanographic and biological character of Arafura Marine Park, with a focus on results from a biodiversity and mapping survey undertaken by the NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub in 2020. This survey targeted two areas (see map below): Money Shoal as an example of shallow coral reef habitat, and Pillar Bank as an example of a deeper water mixed seabed environments. This excerpt focuses mainly on Money Shoal.
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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. 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.
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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. 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.
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The North West Shoals to Shore Research Program investigated seabed habitats and their biodiversity to inform management and sustainable development of the region. Little is known about the fish found on and around the AC125. Part of the reason is that the AC125 is very deep, and thus difficult to observe. One question to ask about a habitat is how many different species of fish are found there - this is called fish species 'richness'. We explored this question for 5 study areas spread along the vast AC125 (see map below, read the full paper here).
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Little is known about what fish species call the AC125 home. Part of the reason is that the AC125 is very deep, and thus difficult to observe. To fill this gap, we conducted fish relative abundance and diversity surveys across five study Areas of the AC125 using Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVS). BRUVS were deployed on and off the AC125 at a minimum distance of 500 m between each unit. A total of 204 BRUVS deployments were conducted at depths between 62.1 m and 181.4 m across each study Area from the RV Solander.
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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.

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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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Data is now available for download from the AIMS Long Term Monitoring Program and the Marine Monitoring Programs.
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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.

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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).
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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.
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Humpback whales are iconic megafauna that play a significant role in the northeast Australian seascape in ecological, cultural and economic contexts.
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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).

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Mangroves are part of a mosaic of coastal habitats with coral reefs and seagrasses that sustain a diversity of organisms and a variety of industries (e.g. fisheries and tourism). They also protect the coastline against erosion and storms when adequately inter-connected. Typically, mangroves and saltmarshes are located along the shore or on islands, and tidal estuaries are suitable for mangrove forests, saltmarshes and saltpans to grow, providing important feeding grounds for shorebirds, dugongs, turtles, dolphins, fish, molluscs, crustaceans, sharks and rays.
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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

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