Marine WATERs (Western Australian Teacher Education Resources)

The Department of Fisheries and Woodside have formed a joint initiative to advance marine education throughout schools in Western Australia.

Marine WATERs (Western Australian Teacher Education  Resources) is an interactive and fully integrated online resource that connects educators and students with specific material to assist in the study of our unique marine ecosystems and the challenges facing the sustainability of our aquatic resources.  This curriculum-based education resource includes lessons plans, interactive and extension activities, student worksheets, fact sheets and information on current and emerging issues in the marine world.  There are five themed modules – ‘processes’, ‘marine biology’, ‘habitats’, ‘humans’ and ‘management’.  With up to date marine education, this program will help students understand and value the diversity, complexity and beauty of the WA marine environment. 

Check out the Sneak Peak area or register to unlock the full features and resources of this wonderful and educational website.

The blue farm: marine biodiscovery

Anti-cancer compounds from new species of sponges and sea squirts found in Western Australia will be trialed in a breast cancer screen at the WA Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR).

Such amazing marine discoveries are part of intensive marine research programs occurring along the WA coastline.

Dr Jane Fromont is the WA Museum’s Senior Curator of Marine Invertebrates and one of the first people to see and catalogue the new marine species which arrive at her laboratory each day.

She sits at the helm of the new WA Bioresources Library – known as WAMBL, and set up as a WA Marine Science Institution project – which will store these new marine samples.

It is part of the broad marine research effort being coordinated by WAMSI to bring research results to all sections of the community, and particularly to medical research which had the capacity to create medical breakthroughs.

Dr Fromont said WAMBL had an interim access solution for drug discovery until a Biodiscovery Act was finalised for WA.

“To have legislation covering this would be our greatest wish,” she said, adding that WAMSI continued to negotiate to see the legislation introduced.

Speaking to a symposium at Fremantle today, she said medical research from new marine discoveries was leaping ahead.

“Part of that research is at UWA where the discovery of a compound from marine and estuarine bacteria that stops bacterial communication, could be used in the future to control bacterial infections,” she said.

“We hope to see the day when professionally-curated extracts can be used by State, national and international organisations.

“We house hundreds of specimens collected during the last 20 years, mostly by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the WA Museum, that can be used in biodiscovery research.

“We need to encourage the introduction of WA biotechnology legislation to improve biodiscovery research investment and exploration prospects.”

Ingredients from marine filter feeders such as sponges are already being used in cosmetics, medicine, sunscreens, antifoulants and industrial enzymes as part of a marine biotechnology industry now growing at 18 per cent a year.

WAMBL Project

New species of ray discovered at Ningaloo

A new species of stingray (pictured, photograph courtesy of Jeremy Vaudo) has been discovered by scientists at Ningaloo Marine Park.

The discovery was made during a series of dive surveys conducted as part of a Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) project led by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) working with scientists from CSIRO.

It was one of 15 collaborative research projects now in full swing across Ningaloo Marine Park involving more than 60 scientists from seven State and Federal agencies and universities.

CSIRO scientist Will White said the discovery of the ray (Neotrygon sp.) highlighted that there was still much to learn about the sharks and rays that inhabited the Ningaloo coast.

“While this species appears to occur further south in Shark Bay and possibly also off the Northern Territory, the very specific habitat occupied by this ray means that careful monitoring and management is required,” Dr White said.

“These magnificent creatures are part of the maskray family and the five that we sighted during the lagoon surveys had an average wingspan between 20cm and 40cm, so they were a lot smaller than manta rays.”

DEC marine scientist Kelly Waples said the dive surveys had documented 40 species of wharks and rays, although it was estimated that as many as 118 species of sharks and rays lived in the marine park.

“Initial results from these surveys indicate that the marine park’s shark and ray populations are healthy and benefiting from zoning designed to protect representative populations,” she said.

“Satellite tags have also been used to track large predatory tiger and hammerhead shaks to find out whether they are residents or visitors to the marine park.”

Research at Ningaloo Marine Park is adding to the scientific knowledge now being gathered by by broader marine monitoring program along the entire WA coast.

“This example of research shows how crucial science is to understanding our marine areas, which helps governments and communities make decisions about their management,” WAMSI Chief Executive Officer, Dr Steve Blake, said.

Western Australia’s Environment Minister Donna Faragher and Federal Minister Federal Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, released media statements on the discovery today. These are attached below.

Information for this article was supplied courtesy of DEC.

First humpback whales arrive in Pender Bay, Kimberley

16 June 2010

The Western Australian Marine Science Institution kicked off the 2010 independent humpback whale survey on Thursday 10 June 2010.

In association with the Two Moons Whale and Marine Research Base, on the shores of Pender Bay, Kimberley coast, the first humpback whale was sighted at 08.24 (WST) from the cliff top location on Friday 11 June 2010.

Three observers independently verified the arrival of the first whale as part of the survey which will complete a continuous log, covering more than five hours each day, from now until early November.

Ian Dapson, a third year marine science student from Murdoch University, is the chief scientist in charge of the survey for the first six weeks and was very excited to see the first arrival in the Bay.

WAMSI thanks the Goojarr Goonyool Aboriginal Corporation for being a 2010 research partner, ensuring independent whale survey data is being collected for this part of the Kimberley coast.

Pictured below: Ian Dapson from Murdoch University, the chief scientist monitoring whale behaviour at Pender Bay.


New Chairman and CEO for WAMSI

With the departure of Dr Steve Blake in October 2012, WAMSI had been searching for a suitable replacement for a number of months. WAMSI is delighted to announce that  Mr Patrick Seares has joined WAMSI as CEO from  the 2nd April 2013.  Patrick moved to WAMSI from the role of Director Water Assessment and Allocation at the Department of Water. There he oversaw the majority of the department’s hydrological and related environmental sciences. He was also responsible for overseeing this works translation into statutory allocation planning, and policy advice to government.



Ms Naomi Brown has taken up the role of WAMSI chairman after the departure of Dr Peter Rogers in March 2013. Naomi previously held the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC). During that period she was a Director of the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC).  She was also a Director of Mackillop Family Services in Victoria and served as the chair of the Risk and Audit Committee for that organization. We are delighted to welcome Naomi to WAMSI.

Premier opens new WAMSI Offices

Premier Colin Barnett, Minister for Science, officially opened the new offices of the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) headquarters in Floreat on Friday 17th May 2013. At the opening were around 35 invited guests that included the WAMSI Board and Governors, Professor Lyn Beazley, Chief Scientist of Western Australia, Winthrop Professor Shaun Collin, WA Premier’s Research Fellow, and Professor Robyn Owens, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) from the University of Western Australia, as well as other eminent Western Australian Scientists. The Premier was given a guided tour of the new WAMSI offices and also toured Angela Rossens’ studio, the Ocean’s Institute’s artist in residence.  After the tour, the Premier unveiled a plaque commemorating the occasion.

Jenny Shaw wins awards

Congratulations to Jenny Shaw on winning four awards and a commendation for the Abrolhos PhotoVoice project and the ‘Seeing Change’ exhibition. The PhotoVoice project showcases a fishing community’s experience of environmental and social change as seen through the lens of a camera. This project highlights the issues affecting the Abrolhos Islands, the rock lobster fishing industry and the islands’ communities over the last five to ten years. It was a successful collaboration between the Western Australian Marine Science Institution, Curtin University, WA Department of Fisheries, Coastwest, the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council, the WA Museum, ABC Open,  and of course, the Abrolhos Islands fishing community.

MAGNA 2013 Museums and Galleries National Awards
Winner – Best Temporary Exhibition under $20,000

Western Australian Coastal Awards for Excellence 2013
Winner – Coastal Heritage Preservation Award

Goodness Awards for Sustainability and Innovation 2013
Winner – Science Award

Overall winner Postgraduate Presentation Award.  NCCARF Conference Climate Adaptation in Action 2013: Knowledge and Partnership. Sydney NSW. June 2013.  For the presentation and poster – Shaw, J., Caputi, N., and Stocker, L. (2013) Climate adaptation in the Abrolhos Islands fishing community: a cascade of environment, management, economic and social changes.

WA Seafood Industry Awards 2013
Commendation – Seafood Industry Promotion Award

Western Australian LANDCARE AWARDS 2013
Finalist – Coastcare Award

Other related links Page 4

WAMSI first to use SeaSim in a four year dredging evaluation project

WA’s marine environment, researchers and the offshore oil and gas industry are set to benefit from new insights provided by a national sea simulator launched at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in Townsville on Thursday.

Known as SeaSim, the $35 million research aquarium can mimic the conditions of various waterways including the open ocean, flooding rivers and reef lagoons more closely than other similar facilities around the globe.

One of its first projects is a multi-billion dollar four-year West Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) program exploring how dredging may affect marine life, such as corals and sponges, off WA’s coast.

Read more here

Solving the ocean’s mysteries with the world’s smartest aquarium

North West Australia Marine Science Symposium

The North West Australia Marine Science symposium hosted by WAMSI, at the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle on the Thursday 21 February 2013 was a great sucess as it brought together researchers from government, industry, scientific agencies and academia to provide a five year ‘snapshot’ of upcoming marine science in the Gascoyne, Pilbara and Kimberley coastline areas.

Below are a list of some of the speaker presentations.

Luke Edwards – Western Australian Node of the Australian Ocean Data Network (WAODN) Metadata Catalogue – what’s thereLuke Edwards – CATAMI (Collaborative and Annotation Tools for Analysis of Marine Imagery and video)

Chris Simpson – Kimberley Marine Research Program

Kelly Waples – Building capacity for marine wildlife research in WA through a Marine Wildlife node of WAMSI

Ryan Lowe – Physical and coupled ecological processes within Australia’s northwest coral reef ecosystems

Piers Larcombe – Shelf sediment transport in NW Australia over decades to centuries: a knowledge gap for science, development & regulation

Simon Allen – MUCRU’s North West Australian Marine Mammal Research: 2013 and beyond

MIng Feng – The Ningaloo Niño

Kim Freidman – What WAMMP needs from WAMSI in the Kimberley and related NW Research?

Glenn Hyndes – Edith Cowan University’s research in the north-west

Lindsay Collins – Curtin’s Northwest Marine Research, Next 5 Years

Richard Brinkman – Bio-physical Oceanography of the Kimberley coastal region

Kimberley Onton – Migratory shorebird research in north west Australia

David Morgan – Threatened fish related research in the north-west

Fiona Valesini – Characteristics of the fish and invertebrate fauna in Kimberley estuaries

Clay Bryce – The WA Museum’s Woodside Kimberley Biodiversity projects: Yesterday, today and tomorrow!

Malcolm McCulloch – Resilience of Coral Reefs of NW Western Australia to Climatic Extremes and Environmental Impacts

Shaun Collin – The Pilbara Marine Conservation Partnership

Ming Feng – Marine connectivity in the Pilbara-Ningaloo region

Jane Fromont – Conservation Systematics of the western Pilbara fauna