About the theme


Benthic primary producers form the basis of the trophic structure that supports the highly diverse Kimberley marine fauna through their productivity and ecosystem services. This project researched the distribution, species and environmental drivers of benthic biodiversity.

The full report for the WAMSI Benthic Biodiversity project is structured as a synthesis report followed by eight individual sub-project reports that focus on project design and descriptions of the distribution, abundance, and characterisation of benthic biodiversity and habitats. The synthesis report provides an overview and regional perspective through summarising the key findings for each sub-project, and the broader management implications these have for the region and the State.

The following sub-project reports are listed in the final report. A Flatback Turtle Foraging Habitats report has been made available as a separate document.

1.1.1 Kimberley Benthic Biodiversity Synthesis report _ Heyward et al Project Design_ Heyward et al Distribution and abundance_Wakeford et al Fine Scale Spatial Models _Puotinen et al Species Diversity and Distribution_Keesing et al Habitat characterisation_Keesing et al. Prediction of Species Distribution_Keesing et al. Habitat Associations_ Strzlecki et al. Shallow coral habitats distribution _Heyward et al.


  • To provide a better understanding of the regional benthic biodiversity found throughout the Kimberley.
  • To identify and characterise in finer detail the major habitat types in selected coastal areas such as Lalang-garram/Camden Sound Marine Park.
  • To identify physical and ecological features and drivers that have resulted in the patterns of habitats and biodiversity described above.


  • Select sampling sites using current physical, geomorphic and biological datasets to provide good representation across the Kimberley.
  • Sample seabed biodiversity during vessel based cruises using a combination of towed camera, sediment grabs and towed sled to collect and identify seabed plants and animals.
  • Sample nearshore areas at a finer scale using towed cameras, low tide reef walks and sediment grabs to identify seabed plants and animals.


  • A habitat map identifying the major seabed habitat types throughout the Kimberley.
  • Protocols to monitor coral cover and other benthic habitats using drop-down cameras adapted for Kimberley conditions
  • 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.
  • Octocoral Field Guide, Kimberley, Western Australia


Rare soft corals feature in Kimberley photographic field guide 

What do flatback turtles in NW Australia eat? 

What’s on the menu for NW Australia’s flatback sea turtles

Kimberley seabed survey expected to reveal new species 

Marine mapping for a North Kimberley Marine Park

The Kimberley coastline: what lies beneath?

Field report from research vessels in Camden Sound, Kimberley region


Richards Z T, Garcia R, Moore G, Fromont J, Kirkendale L, Bryce M, Bryce C, Hara A, Ritchie J, Gomez O, Whisson C. (2019) A tropical Australian refuge for photosymbiotic benthic fauna. Coral Reefs, 38(4), pp.669-676

Hosie, AM, Hara, A. (2016). Description of a new species of brooding spider crab in the genus Paranaxia Rathbun, 1924 (Brachyura: Majoidea), from northern Australia and Indonesia. Zootaxa DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4127.1.6



Seabed Biodiversity of the Kimberley (2017 WAMSI Research Conference)

Benthic Biodiversity of the Kimberley (2015 WAMSI Research Conference)


Program: Kimberley Marine Research

Location: Lalang-garram/Camden Sound Marine Park, Cape Leveque, northern Kimberley

Theme Leader: Andrew Heyward, AIMS


Final Report

Flatback Turtles