Sponges show varying levels of tolerance and resilience to sediment stress

Different sponge species adopt different strategies to cope with sediments in turbid environments and while many of these alleviate pressure in the short-term, researchers have found that longer-term exposure may still compromise fitness and overcome the sponge’s ability to withstand sediment stress.

Sponges are ecologically important filter feeders that employ a wide variety of mechanisms to cope with turbid environments, such as those affected by dredging activity.

As part of a Western Australian Marine Science Institution Dredging Science Node project supported through co-investment from industry and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), a team of researchers led by Dr Nicole Webster tested the sensitivity of sponges to poor water quality conditions. Five main experiments were performed by Dr Mari-Carmen Pineda and PhD student Brian Strehlow at the National Sea Simulator (SeaSim).

The researchers used tanks equipped with an automatic sediment delivery system in which all relevant environmental parameters were also electronically controlled. The latest results have been published in three separate articles in Scientific Reports.


PhD student Brian Strehlow and intern Miriam Sternel working on effects of combined dredging pressures experiment at SeaSim (MCP)


High concentrations of suspended sediments in the water column were found to interfere with suspension feeding, the strategy used by most sponge species to uptake their food from the seawater.


Sponges smothered by sediments and mucus layer in Carteriospongia foliascens (MCP)


Sediments were found to clog sponges’ internal chambers (aquiferous system), which affect their nutritional stores in the long term. In addition, light reduction associated with high turbidity also negatively affected the sponge photosymbionts, which are another source of nutrition for some species. However, most species also possessed an array of different mechanisms for coping with those pressures, such as the production of mucus that traps sediments or oscular closure and tissue regression to minimize the risk of clogging.


Tissue regression in Ianthella basta (MCP)


“Although sponges seem generally resilient to sediment pressures and can present several strategies to ameliorate their effects, we believe that long-term exposure will adversely impact their energetic resources which can certainly affect sponge population dynamics and their important roles in the oceans,” Dr. Pineda said.

Sub-lethal thresholds for suspended sediment concentrations and light intensity were also identified for some sponge species during the experiments.

“These thresholds can be used to help proponents to more reliably predict the effects of their dredging proposals on sponge communities and also to design dredging programs to minimise impacts overall,” Dr. Pineda said. “Also, where the sponge species we used in our experiments occur in the field, they could be used as sentinels in dredge environmental monitoring and management programs and, with knowledge of the thresholds and indicators of stress we have identified, used to reduce risks on these important benthic communities.”

Future experiments will focus on the effects of dredging pressures on sponge larvae and juveniles, as early life stages may be more vulnerable than adult sponges.


Pineda MC, Strehlow B, Sternel M, Duckworth A, Jones R, Webster N.S. (2017) Effect of suspended sediments on the sponge holobiont with implications for dredging management. Scientific Reports. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-05243-x

Pineda MC, Strehlow B, Sternel M, Duckworth A, den Haan J, Jones R, Webster N.S. (2017) Effects of sediment smothering on the sponge holobiont with implications for dredging management Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 5156 doi:10.1038/s41598-017-05243-x

Pineda MC, Strehlow B, Kamp J, Duckworth A, Jones R, Webster N.S. (2017) Effects of combined dredging-related stressors on sponges: a laboratory approach using realistic scenarios Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/s41598-017-05251-x

Project Page: www.wamsi.org.au/filter-feeder-responses-dredging


The WAMSI Dredging Science Node is made possible through $9.5 million invested by Woodside Energy, Chevron Australia and BHP Billiton as environmental offsets. A further $9.5 million has been co-invested by the WAMSI Joint Venture partners, adding significantly more value to this initial industry investment. The node is also supported through critical data provided by Chevron Australia, Woodside Energy and Rio Tinto Iron Ore. The commercial entities had no role in data analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


Dredging Science

AMSA Conference puts national spotlight on WA marine science

The Western Australian Marine Science Institute (WAMSI) was proud to convene a  symposium on the integration of science in support of management in the Kimberley at the 54th Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) Conference, in Darwin, Northern Territory on the 2nd–6th July 2017.

The annual conference attracted more than 300 delegates from a broad marine science community of academics, industry and government scientists, as well as postgraduate students and traditional owners from around the region to discuss issues currently facing Australia’s marine and coastal environment.

Dr Stuart Field, Kimberley session convenor and WAMSI’s Kimberley Marine Research Program Node Leader, explained the conference worked to strengthen collaboration between marine science disciplines; traditional and western knowledge; and Australia and its regional neighbours.

“The AMSA Conference provides a vital platform for marine scientists to engage with researchers in their chosen discipline and to present their own research to the broader marine science and natural resource management community,” Dr Field said.

Dr Field also emphasised the importance of the WAMSI convened Kimberley session.

“The Kimberley session allowed us to showcase the important research that is being undertaken in the Kimberley to underpin the management of the natural values of the region,” he explained. “Exposure to a range of other large research programs at the conference provided an opportunity to see the other examples of the integration of science into management from around Australia.”

On the Friday, Dr Field and Danial Oades, representing the WAMSI Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science Project, presented at the Indigenous Engagement Workshop providing a forum to discuss the building of productive relationships between traditional owners and researchers.

“The workshop was a great opportunity for researchers and Traditional Owners to share both positive and negative experiences associated with marine research being conducted on Country and to further the understanding of the best practice for working with Traditional Owners,” Dr Field said.

The latest WAMSI research was presented by a number of scientists, including:



  1. Jim Underwood: Expect the unexpected: remarkable genetic divergence among and within the wild coral reefs of the Kimberley
  2. Stuart Field: The Kimberley Marine Research Program – Integrating Science into marine conservation management.
  3. Halina Kobryn: Evaluating conflict potential in the marine and coastal areas of the Kimberley region through public participation GIS
  4. Hector Lozano: Integrated land-sea modelling of the Kimberley
  5. Ming Feng: Climate drivers of marine heatwaves off the Kimberley coast.
  6. Peter Bayliss: Integrating Indigenous knowledge and survey techniques to develop a baseline for dugong management in the Kimberley
  7. Verena Schoepf: Will Corals from the naturally extreme Kimberley Region be able to cope with Climate Change?
  8. Michele Thums: Modelling the spatial distribution of humpback whales in the Kimberley region of Western Australia
  9. Lynnath Beckley: Is the Kimberley coast still a pristine wilderness?
  10. PEP – Oliver Berry: Going with the flow: genomic insights into ecological connectivity in the Kimberley Presented by Jim Underwoood


  1. Rebecca Fisher: Accounting for opposing objectives and environmental uncertainty in deriving thresholds for managing dredging impacts near coral reefs.
  2. Pia Bessell-Browne: Cumulative impacts: thermally bleached corals have reduced capacity to clear deposited sediment


  1. Zoe Richards: The Kimberley – Australia’s great unsung coral sanctuary
  2. Kathryn McMahon: Patterns in diversity of seagrasses in the tropical Indian Ocean
  3. PEP – Oliver Berry: Complex ocean currents promote adaptive diversification and lower dispersal in a tropical reef fish from north-western Australia. Presented by Mike Travers
  4. Ryan Lowe: Oceanic drivers of reef heat budgets in northwestern Australia: the role of tides on regional and reef-scales
  5. PEP  – Matthew Adams: Identifying robust bioindicators for seagrass light stress over several timescales. Presented by Kathryn McMahon

AMSA2017 Abstracts – http://events.amsaconference.net/conference-program.html

AMSA is Australia’s peak professional marine science body, with over 800 active members across the nation. Conference website http://events.amsaconference.net/


Attached files: 

PDF iconAMSA program 2017.pdf


Kimberley Marine Research Program

Understanding the ‘impact’ of the Ningaloo Research Program

On Friday 4 August Dr Chris Cvitanovic, an Interdisciplinary Research Fellow in the Centre for Marine Socio-ecology at The University of Tasmania, presented his research evaluating the impact of the Ningaloo Research Program, an extensive program of marine research conducted through the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) and the CSIRO Wealth From Oceans program between 2006 and 2011.  

The Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s largest fringing coral reef, extending across 300 kilometres of coastline between Exmouth and Carnarvon in Western Australia. This area is a global biodiversity hotspot and in 2011 was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of the ‘outstanding universal value of the area’. It is also a premier tourist destination, a key service point for oil and gas development and exploration, and supports two permanent communities in Exmouth and Coral Bay.

Given the multiple and competing uses of the region, in 2004 the Western Australian Government allocated $5 million for research to support the management of the Ningaloo Marine Park. This program was then incorporated into the broader WAMSI research program in 2006 and grew in value to $36 million of research funding over ten years.  
In this talk, Dr Cvitanovic will present two of the key impacts that have resulted from the Ningaloo Research Program.  

Dr Cvitanovic’s presentation provides an overview of the new scientific knowledge that has emerged from the program that can support the ongoing management of the region. He also presented the results of his current research that explores how the Ningaloo Research Program has enhanced trust between the local Ningaloo communities and WA Parks and Wildlife service, and how this can be leveraged to further engage local communities in the management of the region.   

This is where the link will jump to

Link to presentation:

Cvitanovic C, Understanding the ‘impact’ of the Ningaloo Research Program WAMSI Presentation at Parks and Wildlife, Kensington (4 August 2017) (Presentation Audio) (Presentation Slides)


Dr Chris Cvitanovic is an Interdisciplinary Research Fellow in the Centre for Marine Socio-ecology at The University of Tasmania.  His research is focused on maximising the real world impacts of scientific research by enhancing knowledge exchange among scientists and decision-makers and improving public engagement in science.  In doing so Chris draws on almost ten years of experience working at the interface of science and policy for the Australian Government Department of Environment, and then as a Knowledge Broker in CSIROs Climate Adaptation Flagship.

Kimberley Marine Research Program Lunch and Learn sessions scheduled for 2017

For more information, or to RSVP, please contact Kelly Waples, Science Coordinator, Kimberley Marine Research Program


Rare soft corals feature in Kimberley photographic field guide

More than 90 images, giving a glimpse into the rare soft coral gardens of Australia’s remote northwest, have been compiled in a photographic field guide by Dr Monika Bryce of the Western Australian Museum.

Octocoral (non reef-building coral) specimens collected on five expeditions conducted in 2015 and 2016 in and around Camden Sound, Maret Island, Eclipse Islands and Lynher Bank have been identified and the species are characterised in the guide.

The locations for investigation by the Western Australian Marine Science Institution’s Benthic Biodiversity project team were selected with the WA marine park initiatives in mind, in particular Lalang-garram/Camden Sound Marine Park and the North Kimberley Marine Park in the Cape Bougainville-Cape Londonderry region.

The ship based surveys focussed on the deeper areas, from around 12-100m below low tide, where little information is available from previous Kimberley studies. Samples were also taken in nearshore areas at low tide reef walks and sediment grabs.

The guide is designed to walk scientists through the characters they require to identify species of octocorals. It features images of the octocoral species, and the sclerites that form their skeletons which are used to determine species identifications.


Chironephthya sp. 2  Chironephthya sp. 2  sclerites (that form their skeletons)


“The simplicity of the guide belies the complex taxonomic science that underpins it, and the enormous amount of time it has taken Monika to identify the 92 species presented in it,” Dr Jane Fromont, Head of Department of Aquatic Zoology at the Western Australian Museum said.

Video of sponge gardens at Nick’s Rock.

“There are rich sponge and octocoral gardens in the Kimberley and this guide gives a snapshot of the octocoral biodiversity.

“This is the first identification guide of octocorals of the Kimberley region,” Dr Fromont said. “As a new resource into a virtually unknown fauna it will be incredibly useful to researchers attempting to identify these animals. It also provides general estimates of abundance and rarity, and the habitats where the animals are found, and is therefore important for managers of the region.”



Ultimately all available data will be drawn together to provide an overview of the large scale trends in habitats along the Kimberley including:

  • A habitat map identifying the major seabed habitat types throughout the Kimberley.
  • A better understanding and appreciation of the importance of marine biodiversity in the Kimberley (including number of species and identification of species new to science and/or new to the region)
  • An improved ability to plan and manage marine protected areas in the Kimberley.


“The Kimberley is an increasingly active, multiple-use marine region, with a growing need for accessible environmental and socio-economic information,” WAMSI Benthic Biodiversity Project leader, Dr Andrew Heyward (AIMS) said. “These are voyages of discovery, which is inherently exciting for the scientists. We expect the project will reveal much about life on the seabed in this region and make a useful contribution to planning and management.”

WAMSI’s joint venture partners, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO, Curtin University and Tradional Owners also supported the fieldwork and provided laboratory facilities.

The Octocoral Field Guide, Kimberley, Western Australia can be found at:

The $30 million Kimberley Marine Research Program is funded through major investment supported by $12 million from the Western Australian government’s Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy co-invested by the WAMSI partners and supported by the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley.



Dredging Science

Counting cows of the sea in The Kimberley

A three year Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) project has seen CSIRO researchers form long-term partnerships with Indigenous coastal communities to share knowledge and skills in the gathering of data on dugong densities and movements.

Click here to read the full story on the CSIRO ECOS blog


Kimberley Marine Research Program

Report highlights the importance of seagrass in the Kimberley

Fish and turtles can, at times, consume all of the growth of the seagrasses: that’s among the findings of a three-year study that has combined science and traditional knowledge to investigate the productivity of seagrasses and other marine plants, and how important this is for the animals of the Kimberley region.

Researchers from CSIRO, The University of Western Australia (UWA) and Edith Cowan University teamed  up with the Bardi Jawi Rangers – who look after more than 250 kilometres of coast and the 340,700-hectare Bardi Jawi Indigenous Protected Area.

The Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) project team, including UWA’s Professor Gary Kendrick and CSIRO’s Dr Mat Vanderklift, spent three years studying the seagrasses and macroalgae (large seaweed) that grow on the seafloor along the coast and islands around One Arm Point.

Monitoring seagrass growth is very important to assess stress levels and their resilience to change.

The main plants found in the lagoon habitats by the team were the seagrasses Thalassia (also called turtlegrass) and Enhalus, and the large brown algae Sargassum.

These seagrasses are living at extremes in both temperature oxygen levels (high oxygen during the day and low oxygen during the night), and are under threat from climate change.

All of these plants have high growth rates throughout the year, sometimes exceeding a centimetre a day.

However, the research also found that seasonally variable grazing by a range of large vertebrate herbivores, like fish and turtles can consume all of the growth of the seagrasses.

Microscopic algae were very abundant in some places, but not everywhere, and bacteria were particularly abundant in the sediment under mangroves and seagrasses.

The team discovered that herbivores were abundant and ate a lot of the seagrass.

One of the main herbivores was the rabbitfish (Siganus lineatus) which is also a highly sought after food source for the Bardi Jawi people. Green turtles were also abundant, moving at high tide onto the seagrass beds.

Collaborations with the Bardi Jawi Rangers, who are custodians of the Indigenous Protected Area, added enormous value to the research. The exchange of knowledge with the rangers during the project recognised the importance of seagrass to rabbitfish. Therefore, the research concludes, marine park plans should consider these as Key Performance Indicators.

Bardi Jawi ranger Dwayne George and researcher Monique Grol measuring seagrass growth (Monique Grol)

“Particular care should be taken to ensure that the habitats that contain these plants are not degraded, and are monitored in a way that will ensure that any change — even small — is detected,” Professor Kendrick said.

Some work is still needed to develop methods for monitoring that will work in the Kimberley, and that can be adopted and applied by Indigenous ranger groups for Healthy Country Plan monitoring.


The $30 million Kimberley Marine Research Program is funded through major investment supported by $12 million from the Western Australian government co-invested by the WAMSI partners and supported by the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley.


Kimberley Marine Research Program

New genetic stocks of turtles defined in the Kimberley

New research has uncovered patterns of biological, genetic and developmental change in marine turtles of the Kimberley that could change the way the region is managed.

Marine turtles in the Kimberley nest throughout the year, with flatback turtles stocks separating into distinct summer or winter nesters; generally separated by the Dampier Peninsula.

During breeding season, female turtles emerge from the water and crawl up the beach to dig a nest for a clutch of eggs. Flatback turtles will lay about 50 eggs per nest, while green turtles will lay around 100 eggs per nest. Typically, each female lays between three to five clutches of eggs a season before making the journey to a foraging ground to replenish energy until the next migration 2-4 years later.

Overlap of summer and winter tracks occurs between Lacepede Islands and Dampier Peninsula (WAMSI)

Distribution and Abundance by Parks and Wildlife (Marine Science and GIS Units), and Pendoley Environmental researchers

Aerial counts of turtle tracks along island and mainland beaches found the winter track counts highest at Cape Domett, South Maret, Parry Island and Vulcan Island. The summer track counts were highest at the Lacapedes Islands, Eighty Mile Beach, Maret, Cassini and Oliver Islands.

Ground view of turtle tracks at Cape Domett. Photos (Parks and Wildlife)

Genetic Analysis by Griffith University and CSIRO researchers

Previous genetic studies recognised four major flatback population stocks in Australia. However, the early results from the Western Australian Marine Science Institution’s (WAMSI) Kimberley Marine Research Program discovered five genetic breeding stocks in Western Australia alone.

The previously recognised stocks included the Pilbara and Cape Domett stocks. Three newly recognised stocks are provisionally referred to as the Eighty Mile Beach, Ecobeach, and Maret Island stocks.

The green turtles of the Lacepedes were also a different genetic stock than previously recognized.  The research team of Nyul Nyul rangers and CSIRO are taking a skin biopsy from a day-time nester. (Parks and Wildlife)

According to project leader Dr Scott Whiting from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, the new WAMSI data is also updating the thinking about the green turtle populations.

“Of particular interest was the relationship between turtles from the coastal Kimberley (Lacepede Islands) and Northwest Cape,” Dr Whiting said. “An earlier analysis, based on limited genetic sampling, indicated that these distant regions (>1000km apart) should be considered a single stock. In a new analysis with more data, green turtles nesting at the southwestern extremity of their Australian range (Barrow Island & Northwest Cape) were significantly genetically distinct from those at the Lacepede Islands and so could be considered distinct stocks.”

Effects of Temperature by The University of Western Australia researchers

Another aim of the WAMSI turtle project is to understand the effects of a changing climate on turtle populations. Climate change has the potential to significantly alter the balance of populations as incubation temperature determines the sex of the incubating turtle embryos.

To investigate this question the researchers incubated summer and winter flatback and summer green turtle eggs to record the temperatures that produced mixed sexes, and the temperature producing an equal number of sexes. Predictions based on global climate models were used to adjust temperatures to allow for future projections.

Traditional Knowledge by the Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science Project and established ranger groups

A fourth component being developed is to incorporate traditional knowledge about turtle populations from 11 Traditional Owner groups on Country to improve outcomes for management activities in the region’s Marine Parks and Indigenous Protected Areas.

Flatback turtle with satellite tag attached in Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park.  Eighty Mile Beach is a newly identified new flatbacks genetics stock determined in the WAMSI study.  Participants included the Nyangumarta, Ngarla, and Karajarri rangers, Marine Park staff, Marine Science program staff and Murdoch faculty and students. (Parks and Wildlife)


The $30 million Kimberley Marine Research Program is funded through major investment supported by $12 million from the Western Australian government co-invested by the WAMSI partners and supported by the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley.


Kimberley Marine Research Program

Study confirms the ‘uniqueness’ of Kimberley reefs

A new report confirms that reef systems in the Kimberley continue to produce life amid some of the most extreme conditions yet recorded for reefs worldwide, prompting scientists to ask the question: how much more pressure can the Kimberley reefs cope with?

In the report for the Western Australian Marine Science Institution, scientists have documented what life is like on the Kimberley reefs and how that life responds to environmental variability, including extremes in temperature, oxygen and water levels.

The research team, led by Professor Ryan Lowe and PhD student Renee Gruber from The University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute, found the daily variability in temperature and dissolved oxygen that occurs on the reef platform is driven by semidiurnal tides (high and low tides that differ in height) and solar (daylight) cycles.

“The shape and friction of the platform causes water to ‘pond’ on the reef for up to 10 hours during each ebb tide (twice daily),” Professor Lowe said. “When these extended low tide periods occur near noon, extreme warming happens on the reef, with temperatures rising by 10°C over several hours and reaching up to 38oC.”

Researchers placed a scaffolding platform on the reef flat to hold a weather station and several sensors that monitored environmental conditions on the reef during their experiments. (Ryan Lowe)

“This high light availability also drives high rates of reef primary production (such as seagrass growth), which releases oxygen into the water column and results in extremes in oxygen saturation (~270%),” Ms Gruber said. “When low tide periods occur near midnight, community respiration (the consumption of oxygen as reef organisms create energy) causes oxygen levels to plummet, reaching very low (hypoxic) levels; low oxygen levels can harm or kill organisms in other ecosystems, and are not typically recorded on reefs.”

Despite extremes in temperature, light, and dissolved oxygen during low tide (seen here on Tallon reef), Kimberley reefs are able to support many species of producers including coral, coralline algae, macroalgae, and seagrass. (Ryan Lowe)

“Despite these extremes, the study found that overall rates of primary production of reef communities were not adversely affected,” Ms Gruber said. “This is a clear example of uniqueness of Kimberley  reef communities, which are well-adapted to conditions that would kill ‘typical’ reef producers.”

The report also highlights that productivity varied on a day-to-day basis, due to the timing of noon relative to low tide, a cycle that lasts about 15 days. It suggests that future studies shorter than this time frame may over- or under-estimate ecological processes (such as productivity).

The study also found the overall average rates of productivity were similar to the global mean for tropical reefs, demonstrating that tide-dominated reefs can maintain moderate rates of production despite daily extremes in temperature.

The report concludes that, while the overall rates of productivity in the Kimberley reef system were comparable to other coral reef habitats worldwide, the environmental conditions under which primary producers survive and grow are extreme.

“This has implications for the resilience of these producers in the face of climate change across the Kimberley environment,” Professor Lowe said. “While these organisms appear well adapted to the local environmental conditions of the Kimberley, many are still likely operating at the edge of their capacity, as evidenced by coral bleaching in the inshore Kimberley associated with the El Niño heat wave in 2016.”


The $30 million Kimberley Marine Research Program is funded through major investment supported by $12 million from the Western Australian government co-invested by the WAMSI partners and supported by the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley.


Kimberley Marine Research Program

Bleached corals have reduced capacity to clear sediment

An investigation into the ability of bleached corals to cope with dredging related stressors has found that several species of thermally bleached corals cannot clear sediment that has smothered them.

The study was undertaken as part of the Western Australian Marine Science Institution’s Dredging Science Node at the AIMS National Sea Simulator in specially developed tank systems.

Corals were subjected to elevated temperatures to cause bleaching and then exposed to various rates of sediment deposition, or smothering. Bleached corals were found to be able to remove about three times less sediment than those that were not bleached.

Lead researcher Pia Bessell-Browne from The University of Western Australia Oceans Institute, Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis and Australian Institute of Marine Science said that as coral bleaching events become more common we need to increase our understanding of how these large scale pressures interact with more local pressures, such as dredging activities.

“This has important implications for management, as it demonstrates that precautions should be put in place to reduce the impact of dredging related pressures, and in particular sediment deposition, during periods of elevated ocean temperatures that could result in coral bleaching,” Ms Bessell-Browne said.

The full results have been published in  Scientific Reports.

Bessell-Browne P, Negri A.P., Fisher R, Clode P.L., Jones R, (2017) Cumulative impacts: thermally bleached corals have reduced capacity to clear deposited sediment Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/s41598-017-02810-0

The WAMSI Dredging Science Node is made possible through $9.5 million invested by Woodside Energy, Chevron Australia and BHP Billiton as environmental offsets. A further $9.5 million has been co-invested by the WAMSI Joint Venture partners, adding significantly more value to this initial industry investment. The node is also supported through critical data provided by Chevron Australia, Woodside Energy and Rio Tinto Iron Ore. The commercial entities had no role in data analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


Dredging Science

The passing of Barry Wilson


It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of world-renowned zoologist and biogeographer Dr Barry Wilson, the architect of Western Australia’s marine conservation system which today protects locally, nationally and internationally significant marine environments, and guarantees access for all people to enjoy and experience these unparalleled natural attractions.

Barry’s 46-year career encompassed many roles from specialising in the biology and distribution of marine molluscs and Curator of Molluscs at the WA Museum to Director of Nature Conservation with the Department of Conservation and Land Management, a Director at Australian Wildlife Conservancy and Chairman of the WA Marine Parks and Reserves Authority. He was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for service to the community in marine science in 2003.

Barry’s unending commitment and passion for conserving the environment was pivotal in building the foundation for the State’s marine parks and reserves system and is reflected in the way we as an agency manage our natural values today and in the future.

His leadership as Director of Nature Conservation from 1985-1991 oversaw the ground-breaking work achieved by the agency in native fauna conservation. He was the driving force behind the establishment of the State’s first marine parks at Marmion and Ningaloo.

After leaving CALM, Barry Chaired the Marine Parks and Reserves Selection Working Group and oversaw the preparation of A Representative Marine Reserve System for Western Australia (often referred to as the Wilson Report), on behalf of the then Minister for the Environment. The “Wilson Report” was published by CALM in June 1994.

The report was the result of seven years’ work in which Barry and fellow scientists prepared a blueprint for WA’s marine reserve system across the State’s 13,500 km coastline from the Kimberley to Eucla, and was one of the most significant marine conservation documents released anywhere in Australia and probably the world.

Barry was a pioneer in conservation management and many of us have been extremely fortunate to have worked with and known him.

On behalf of us all at Parks and Wildlife I have passed on our deepest sympathies and condolences to Barry’s family.

Jim Sharp

Director General

Department of Parks and Wildlife