World Oceans Day

Thanks to the partnership between The Ocean Project, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and Random House Children’s Books, they are pleased to offer another year’s worth of great Seuss-themed World Oceans Day materials!

Celebrate World Oceans Day with Oceans of Inspiration theme featuring Dr. Seuss’ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish classic book characters.

New web resources boost WA marine environment education

Western Australia’s first integrated online marine science curriculum is being expanded.

Phase two of the Department of Fisheries’ MarineWATERs project, funded by Woodside Energy, provides resources for educators and students across Western Australia.

Manager, Community and Education, Michael Burke said the initial interactive website project was launched last year and had proved very popular.

“It connects educators and students with the tools they need to study WA’s unique marine ecosystems and address challenges to the sustainability of aquatic resources,” Mr Burke said.

“We are very pleased with phase two of the project that is being rolled out now, because it provides a range of new resources across all five modules for Kindergarten to Year 10. These resources include 14 additional lesson plans, plus new PowerPoint presentations and two new supplementary packages through the ‘In Depth’ and ‘Case Study’ series.”

Mr Burke said MarineWATERs supported teachers through lesson plans, fact sheets and information on current and emerging issues, plus links to credible and relevant sources.

The Western Australia Department of Fisheries is a WAMSI partner.

Photo caption: Christmas Island high school students monitoring coral.
Photo credit: Justin Gilligan

Kimberley Marine Research Station records near-shore coral spawning for first time

In a historic moment, scientists from the Kimberley Marine Research Station in Cygnet Bay have observed and documented the spawning of near-shore corals along the mainland Kimberley coast for the first time.

Nine days after the March full moon and after two wet, windy nights of monitoring, aquariums set up in the research station were awash with slicks of bright blue and pink spawn as moon (Mussidae), brain (Faviidae) and staghorn corals (Acroporidae) released their gametes into the water for fertilisation. The spawning occurred synchronously with corals on the reef only a few hundred metres away.

While Indigenous Australians in the region know the times of year when corals will spawn on the neap tides based on observations of slicks, near-shore coral spawning, which has been well researched in other areas such as the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo, has never been seen by scientists along the mainland  Kimberley coast until now. Direct observation of spawning agrees with previous sampling in the south and central Kimberley that found evidence of maturing gametes leading up to the March spawning. Taken together, this suggests the March spawning may be a key period for corals along the Kimberley, just as it is for the much better understood reefs at Rowley Shoals, Scott Reef and the iconic Ningaloo.

The observations were made possible with the expertise and assistance from Dr Andrew Heyward, a coral biologist from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (a WAMSI partner), and will provide a basis for future studies on the reproductive habits of corals which form the foundation of the Kimberley’s reefs – one of the most unique and poorly understood ecosystems in Australia.

The Kimberley Marine Research Station is an Industry Associate Member of WAMSI and is the first and only scientific research station in the region. Established in 2009 through a collaboration between Cygnet Bay Pearls and WAMSI, the Kimberley Marine Research Station aims to support and encourage board-scale independent scientific research throughout the Kimberley coastal and marine environment.  The research station offers facilities, vessels, personnel and local knowledge to enable independent marine scientists to access and work in the Kimberley.

Through its partners, WAMSI is undertaking pioneering research in the Kimberley marine environment in support of the State’s Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy.

Photo: Tony Cockram

See attachment for Kimberley Marine Research Station press release  

Kimberley Marine Research Station:

Media coverage in The Australian, Secret Life of Kimberley corals revealed

WAMSI research in the Kimberley

Attached files: 

PDF iconKimberley Inshore Coral Spawning 2012 release_0.pdf

Foundation WAMSI Chairman inducted into the WA Science Hall of Fame

WAMSI’s Foundation Chairman, Dr Bernard Bowen, was last night inducted into the WA Science Hall of Fame at the WA Science Awards Gala Dinner.

Dr Bernard Bowen was instrumental in establishing WAMSI during the inception and start-up period 2005 – 2007. Dr Bowen is currently the Chair of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research [ICRAR] which he took on after finishing as the WAMSI Chairman in July 2007. Dr Bowen has retained strong links with the marine science community through WAMSI however and is currently the Chairman of the WAMSI Strategic Programs Committee which advises the Board on strategic issues.

WAMSI CEO, Dr Steve Blake said “This award bestowed on Dr Bowen is very well deserved indeed. He has provided over 50 years of loyal service and scientific leadership to the State. Dr Bowen’s leadership across multiple science disciplines within WA is legendary. Dr Bowen’s focus on good governance, fair process and institutional enablement combines to give all joint venture participants confidence which encourages the ensuing co-investment and additional partnering opportunities.”

Press release: “Science Hall of Fame add a new star” from ICRAR, see attachment.

Photo: Dr Bowen receiving the award at the WA Science Awards Gala Dinner on 8 Dec 2011 with his wife, Esme.

Attached files: 

PDF iconBB Award_Final.pdf

ECOS – Will Shark Bays seagrass survive big floods

Scientists are studying the impact of a massive influx of fresh water and sediment to Shark Bay in Western Australia as a result of the area’s largest ever flood event recorded in December last year.

Shark Bay was declared a World Heritage Area in 1991, and has the distinction of being one of the few places in the world that satisfies all criteria for World Heritage listing.

The bay’s vast seagrass meadows – the most diverse assemblage of seagrasses in the world – support globally significant populations of endangered dugongs and turtles.

‘Seagrasses are important as the basis of the bay’s food web,’ said CSIRO researcher, Dr Mat Vanderklift. ‘An array of invertebrates feed on them, fish feed on the invertebrates, and predators like dolphin feed on the fish.

‘The meadows also provide a nursery for juveniles of many species, including crabs and prawns.’

As well as the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, the flood-impact study involves The University of Western Australia (UWA), Curtin University and the WA Marine Science Institution.



For more details visit:

Data Interrogation and Visualisation Environment (DIVE)

DIVE is a data visualisation and data access tool developed for, but not limited to, geographically localised, temporally and spatially varying data. It specifically targets the visualisation of multidisciplinary data and multidimensional data. DIVE runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OSX computers.

On this web page you can see an overview of DIVE. There are links to download the installer, the manual and the licence conditions.

Click on the link below to visit the DIVE site.

WA Marine Heatwave Event – The Great 2010/11 La Nina

A major ocean warming [marine heatwave] event occurred along the WA west coast from November 2010 until March 2011 influenced by a very strong La Nina event [opposite to El Nino] that caused masses of tropical water to flow between Indonesia and NW Australia and maintained very high ocean temperatures as it moved south down the west coast of WA. This was the same La Nina event that caused the incredible rain and flooding in eastern Australia during the same period of time.

At the height of the “heatwave”, temperatures of 3.5 deg C over ambient levels were recorded. This provides a major “shock” to the marine environment and caused fish kills and extensive coral bleaching in areas not accustomed to the sudden onset of high temperatures. Tropical fish species ended up much further south than their usual predicted ranges. Graphics depicting the southward migration of this heatwave event can be seen at:

In some cases, these are the warmest sea temperatures ever recorded for these regions and they appear to have been influenced by a much stronger than usual Leeuwin Current over summer, associated with the very strong La Nina event. The baseline information collected through SRFME and WAMSI over the last 10 years has allowed marine scientists to begin to quantify the magnitude and significance of the event and also begin to predict the ongoing implications for Western Rock Lobster recruitment, prawns, scallops, finfish etc. It further illustrates the importance of establishing marine scientific baselines and ongoing monitoring. The extent of the coral bleaching has been reported as high as 90% in some parts of the Mid West around places such as Shark Bay. Scientists will now continue to monitor the recovery as the La Nina event continues to break down. Some marine scientists are suggesting the marine heatwave “event” may be a likely indication of what to expect in the future with predicted increased climate variability affecting the marine environment, especially ocean warming, as we move into the future.

See also:°c-above-average-surface-temperatures/

Photo: DEC Marine Science Monitoring Team evaluating the magnitude of the coral bleaching event in Shark Bay in May 2011

Divers Shark Bay

Shark Bay Marine Science project kicks off

Project name: Shark Bay – Effects of Rising Water Levels on the Faure Sill and Stromatolites

A two year study into the likely effects of climate change and sea level rise on the Faure Sill and Hamelin Pool region of Shark Bay has commenced.

A WAMSI team comprising UWA, Curtin University and CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship received a Commonwealth Caring for our Country grant in late 2010 and began fieldwork in early 2011 following two major flood events over Christmas and New Year. As well as several fieldwork trips now completed, detailed airborne scanner work has been flown mapping the key parts of the Faure Sill and Hamelin Pool at 1-3m resolution on the ground. Work will be ongoing throughout 2011 and 2012.

Kimberley Aboriginal Ranger Marine and Coastal Science Training

Kimberley Aboriginal Ranger Marine and Coastal Science Training

On 14 June 2011, WAMSI was invited to participate in the Annual Indigenous Ranger Training Day held at Middle Lagoon on the Dampier Pennisula, north of Broome. Ranger groups came from throughout the Kimberley region.

The WAMSI CEO, Dr Steve Blake, was invited to present background and technical information on the marine environments along the WA coast with a particular focus on the Kimberley coastal areas. Also covered were: marine science research techniques, satellite tracking techniques, recent whale survey results, marine data management, international whale monitoring networks, migration patterns of humpback whales, the role of Kimberley coast as part of the annual migration, and the potential roles for rangers in both whale monitoring and broader marine science activities around the Kimberley coast. Four training sessions involving 80 Indigenous Rangers and participating Elders were conducted at the Two Moons Whale and Marine Research Base, concluding with Q & A and then a “hands-on” session with parts of a humpback whale skeleton for view. Steve Blake said “WAMSI is delighted to be able to assist with the training activities as part of the highly successful Aboriginal Ranger Programs in the Kimberley region.”

Whale Bones
Whale Bones

Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy

The Western Australian Marine Science Institution welcomes the announcement of the WA State Government’s Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy, see:

In 2008 WAMSI released the report: a turning of the tide: science for decisions in the Kimberley-Browse marine region to help highlight the need for a coordinated and integrated approach to establishing the necessary marine and coastal scientific baselines in the Kimberley Browse region. The Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy will go a long way to meeting this need.

WAMSI is looking forward to leading the Marine and Coastal Science components as outlined in the Strategy.