Art and ocean science come together to inspire unique exhibition

A new initiative connecting art and marine science will see a group of south-west artists create a series of contemporary artworks inspired by Western Australia’s unique marine environment.

This exciting collaboration between scientists and artists will lead to the aquatic-themed public art exhibition ‘Immerse’ exploring issues about the marine environment early next year.

MIX Artists Inc is a group of contemporary artists in the Great Southern region of Western Australia who work in a wide range of media including sculpture, installation, painting, photography, textiles, and digital media.

WAMSI is connecting the artists with researchers across the partnership to help inform their art practice and provide information on the biodiversity of the South Coast marine environment.

The approach challenges them to use their creative skills to conceptualise and communicate marine science in a unique way.

Earlier this year, WAMSI’s Research Director Dr Jenny Shaw presented an overview on the extent of research being carried out in the South Coast region, featuring content from researchers across the WAMSI partnership. The artists later joined the UWA Ecology Fieldwork trip to sample research in action.

The exhibition will document the artists’ process, including the interaction between artists and scientists over the course of the year.

Opportunities for the artists to pursue their learning about the marine environment will continue through fieldwork trips, talks by scientists, provided resources and other activities and their own research.

WAMSI Research Director Dr Jenny Shaw, said the collaboration was a great opportunity to move science into the community.

“Often scientists are very skilled at research and know so much about a particular topic but have difficulty moving that knowledge into the wider community.” Dr Jenny Shaw, WAMSI

“The creatives are exceptionally skilled at doing exactly that.  We are thrilled that this talented group of Albany Artists has decided to ‘immerse’ themselves in marine science and create an exhibition for the whole community to enjoy and perhaps learn more about some of the amazing things in their local marine environment.”

MIX Artist Chair Annette Davis said the engagement with the scientists to date had been incredibly enlightening.

“Looking down the microscope, watching underwater videos, meeting two groups of students as they came in off the water, watching the informative and amusing presentations and hearing the students answer penetrating questions about their methodologies – it was all very interesting and stimulating and has contributed to our considerations about the exhibition and the curatorial approach,” Ms Davis said.

The artists are continuing to connect with scientists during the investigative phase of their research.

The exhibition will take place in Albany and run from 20 January – 25 February 2023.

South coast on national stage

The waters off Western Australia’s south coast will be a focus of discussion at a special symposium of a national marine science conference to be held in Fremantle in July.

Western Australian Marine Science Institution Research Director Jenny Shaw says the symposium is an opportunity to bring the south coast to the attention of government bodies and the wider marine science community.

“This is the first step in understanding what knowledge is available ahead of canvassing government, industry, community and research views on management and what’s important to them about the south coast,” Dr Shaw says.

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Symposium: The South Coast of Western Australia: research for management

The South Coast of Western Australia: research for management symposium aims to uncover previous and current research being conducted off the south coast and to bring the south coast to the attention of the wider marine science community and government bodies.

The economic, social and environmental dimensions of the waters off the isolated south coast of Western Australia are poorly understood. Knowledge gaps identified by researchers and the impacts the south coast faces under a changing climate will help to develop a strong case for a future Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) research program to support marine management in this region.

This symposium brings together 15 researchers working off the south coast of Western Australia and welcomes collaborative input into informing management with good science.

When: Tuesday 9 July 10.30am-3.30pm
Where: AMSA Conference, The Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle, WA
Chair: Jenny Shaw, Research Director, WAMSI

Dr. Mark Buckley
Research Fellow
The University of Western Australia Wave Energy Research Centre
Observations and modeling of waves and currents in Albany, WA

Dr. Michael Cuttler
Research Associate
The University of Western Australia
Seasonal and interannual variability of the wave climate at a wave energy hotspot off the southwestern coast of Australia

Connor Gorham
Edith Cowan University

Mr. Jeffrey Norriss
Research Scientist
Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
Bycatch of Flesh-footed shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes) recorded by a purse seine fishery is closely associated with their annual breeding cycle

Dr. Harriet Paterson
Seasonal Dynamics of Plastic on the South Coast of WA and its Impact on Flesh-footed Shearwaters

Mr. Thomas Crutchett
Master’s Student
The University of Western Australia
Microplastics identified in commercially caught Western Australian Sardines (Sardinops sagax)

Dr. Claire Ross
Research Scientist
Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation And Attractions
Growth and physiology of high-latitude corals in Bremer Bay, Western Australia (34.4°S)

Mr David Juszkiewicz
Honours Student
Curtin University
Phylogeography of Plesiastrea versipora (Cnidaria: Scleractinia: Plesiastreidae): an integrated taxonomic approach reveals cryptic speciation

Miss Savita Goldsworthy
Student, Curtin University
The Composition of Shallow Water Temperate Reef Assemblages in Western Australia

Mr. Jack Parker
Master Student, Curtin University
The changes in distributions and function of Labridae in temperate South Western Australia.

Kyle Stewart
Murdoch University
Food resource partitioning among three key fishery species in the Walpole-Nornalup Estuary

Mr. Tim Leary
Technical Officer
Western Australian Department Primary Industries And Regional Development
Human capital in the south coast WA fishing industry: an exceptional ageing workforce or in line with broader demographic trends?

Dr. Wiebke Ebeling
Centre Manager, Wave Energy Research Centre
The University of Western Australia
Great Southern Marine Research Facility – a new hub for Australia’s Blue Economy

Dr. Elke Reichwaldt
Environmental Officer
Western Australian Department of Water and Environmental Regulation
Linking the management of catchment and sandbar opening to estuary health – a case study from Wilson Inlet, Western Australia

Mrs Alessandra Mantovanelli
Environmental Officer
Western Australian Department of Water and Environmental Regulation
Integrated approach for managing estuaries of South-West Australia

Marine science focus turns to Perth metro and south coast

This article was originally published on an archived WAMSI website. Some media or links may appear missing or broken. You can use the search function to look for these, or contact for a specific request.

The Perth metro and southern coastlines are among the next areas of focus for research development by the Western Australian Marine Science Institution partnership.

Having successfully executed one of the largest single-issue research projects in Australia on dredging science and another in the Kimberley, the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) has determined five key areas to address in the next step to delivering the science priorities outlined in the WA Blueprint for Marine Science.

WAMSI Chief Executive Officer Dr Luke Twomey said the WAMSI Board, including representatives from universities, CSIRO, The Australian Institute of Marine Science and government, had supported the decision to work on determining the science required to meet the community, industry and infrastructure needs off the Perth metro and southern coastlines; the Shark Bay World Heritage site; decommissioning; and marine science information management.

“There is a variety of new and existing pressures along the Perth metropolitan coastline including the Westport port and environs strategy, the Defence expansion at Garden Island and ongoing industry and infrastructure needs aligned with coastal development,” Dr Twomey said. “We need to take a holistic view of how we use that marine environment and determine what science will be required to help us make better decisions.”

The WAMSI joint venture partnership consisting of 15 industry, government and academic institutions also identified gaps in understanding about the south coast that needed to be fed back into state and federal marine park planning.

“More recently the southern coastline has become a hub for The University of Western Australia led Wave Energy Research Centre, developing aquaculture and ecotourism industries, as well as ongoing interest in offshore development,” Dr Twomey said. “The time has come where we need to really discuss these research gaps with all those involved, including the Indigenous community, so we can ensure that science and investment is targeted.”

Work is already underway to develop the science priorities for the Shark Bay World Heritage Site, with more than 70 representatives from research institutions, industry and government coming together recently in a workshop that is being developed into a white paper.

WAMSI is also working with the two peak oil and gas industry advisory bodies, Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association and National Energy Resources Australia, to help develop the questions and plans to meet the science priorities that emerged from the WAMSI review of stakeholder views on decommissioning offshore infrastructure.

Laying the groundwork for developing a system for marine science information management has also been identified as an immediate priority to support the blue economy into the future.

“It’s about getting as much data as we can and extracting as much value out of it as possible” Dr Twomey said. “We need to develop a way to bring together current monitoring data and make it more widely accessible.”

“We’ve been working with the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute on developing a roadmap to obtain data from environmental impact assessments, research institutions, marine industries and marine park management and we’ll continue to develop that.”

The Western Australian government has committed more than $2.6 million over three years to support the implementation of the Blueprint for Marine Science, which will guide long-term collaboration between all sectors operating in the marine environment and establish a hub for global marine research.