Australian Institute of Marine Science

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Australia's tropical marine research agency, is recognised internationally for its leadership in research into tropical marine environments and their living aquatic resources.

AIMS is the host and developer of the eAtlas system.

Articles

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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though they've been much studied, most data that shows where these turtles spend their time around Australia remains unpublished. 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.
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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. 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.
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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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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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