Marine Science News

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The secret lives of silky sharks: unveiling their whereabouts supports their protection

Open ocean sharks are elusive and mysterious. They undertake vast journeys that span hundreds to thousands of kilometres across immense ocean basins. We know very little about the secret lives of ocean sharks, where they live and why they are there.


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Is the Great Barrier Reef reviving – or dying? Here’s what’s happening beyond the headlines

The Great Barrier Reef is not dead. Nor is it in good health. The truth is complex. To understand what’s going on takes more than a headline.

Released today, this year’s update paints a complex picture. It wasn’t long ago the Great Barrier Reef was reeling from successive disturbances, ranging from marine heatwaves and coral bleaching to crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and cyclone damage, with widespread death of many corals especially during the heatwaves of 2016 and 2017.


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New Australian laws for ‘engineering’ the ocean must balance environment protection and responsible research

The Australian Labor government has introduced a bill to regulate “marine geoengineering” – methods to combat climate change by intervening in the ocean environment.


The bill would prohibit listed marine geoengineering activities without a permit.


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New insights into coral symbiosis after bleaching

New research led by a team from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has uncovered a complex picture of both loss and gain within the microalgal communities of corals after the 2016 Great Barrier Reef mass coral bleaching.


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Keppel corals show resilience following severe bleaching

Corals in the Keppel Islands of the southern Great Barrier Reef survived and recovered from a severe bleaching event in 2020, indicating the high resilience of corals in the region, new research by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has found.

The severe bleaching in Woppaburra sea Country, near Yeppoon, was part of the 2020 mass bleaching event of the Great Barrier Reef and affected 75%-98% of coral around the islands.

But despite these corals being exposed to accumulated heat that often results in mortality, coral cover in the region was found to have remained stable, with very little mortality occurring.


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The Turtles are coming, The Turtles are coming!


Some of our flippered friends are getting ready to come ashore and put their babies in the sands of the east coast in the hope that the warmer temperatures will incubate their eggs and birth the next generation of sea turtles.

Sea World and Watergum are very excited to announce the start of turtle nesting season on the Gold Coast and the beginning of TurtleWatch Gold Coast monitoring activities.


7 Nov 2022

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Why do whales keep getting tangled in shark nets? and what should you do if you see it happen?

Australians have watched in horror this week as two separate humpback whales were tangled up in Queensland shark nets on the same day. These put the number of whales caught in Queensland shark nets to four this season – that we know about.


7 July 2022

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Millions of years ago, the megalodon ruled the oceans – why did it disappear?

Imagine traveling back in time and observing the oceans of 5 million years ago.

As you stand on an ancient shoreline, you see several small whales in the distance, gliding along the surface of an ancient sea.

20 June 2022

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Animals sleep, but little is known about how sharks do it

Sharks used to figure prominently in my nightmares: coming after me in the ocean, rivers, swimming pools. But after spending some time with these elusive creatures in 2015, a more compelling question started to keep me up at night — do the very creatures that invade my dreams engage in sleep themselves?

7 April 2022

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Sculptures headed for Great Barrier Reef display



The Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) has launched its next series of sculptures at a special exhibit at Townsville’s Museum of Tropical Queensland.

18 Mar 2022

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What causes a tsunami? An ocean scientist explains the physics of these destructive waves

On Jan. 15, 2022, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano in Tonga erupted, sending a tsunami racing across the Pacific Ocean in all directions. As word of the eruption spread, government agencies on surrounding islands and in places as far away as New Zealand, Japan, Australia and even the U.S. West Coast issued tsunami warnings. Only about 12 hours after the initial eruption, tsunami waves a few feet tall hit California shorelines – more than 5,000 miles away from the eruption.

January 19 2022

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Sponges can survive low oxygen and warming waters. They could be the main reef organisms in the future

Sponges are ancient marine animals, very common throughout the world’s oceans and seem less affected by ocean warming and acidification. Our latest research shows they can also survive low levels of oxygen. This is a surprising finding because most sponges are rarely exposed naturally to low oxygen in modern seas. We propose their tolerance is the result of their long evolutionary history and exposure to variable oxygen concentrations through geological time. As our oceans continue to warm due to climate change, they are expected to hold less oxygen.

The ability of sponges to survive low-oxygen conditions means they are likely to tolerate these possible future environments better than other organisms living on the seafloor.

January 17 2022

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Tsunami reported broadly across the Southwest Pacific and on the East coast of Australia.

Tsunami recorded at the Gold Coast Seaway. From
Tsunami recorded at the Gold Coast Seaway. From

A wide spread Tsunami wave has been recorded by tide gauges From Cooktown in far north Queensland to Spring Bay in Southern Tasmania. The Tsunami was generated by an undersea volcanic eruption in Tonga in the southern Pacific ocean. 


January 17 2022

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What is the value of a wave? How changes to our coastline could wipe out surfing’s benefits

Before COVID-19, global surf tourism spending was estimated at up to A$91 billion per year. And since the start of the pandemic, demand for surfing has boomed as people increasingly turn to outdoor activities. But surfing’s benefits to human well-being aren’t often studied in economics terms. This is a major knowledge gap we are now trying to fill.

January 10 2022

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From enormous tides to millions of shells, here are 6 unique beaches for your summer road trip

For most people, a beach involves sun, sand, salt, and waves. A beach is a beach – right?

For coastal scientists and engineers, it’s a little different. We wonder how these beaches are made and why they are so different. Australia has over 35,000 kilometres of coastline to explore, and our beaches can differ radically. In Australia’s south, where tides are smaller and waves bigger, we get high energy beaches with lots of surf and sand. The north’s larger tides and smaller waves mean the beaches look quite different – they’re flatter, with big intertidal zones. Some even have mud instead of sand.

December 23 2021

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La Niña just raised sea levels in the western Pacific by up to 20cm. This height will be normal by 2050

Severe coastal flooding inundated islands and atolls across the western equatorial Pacific last week, with widespread damage to buildings and food crops in the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

December 16 2021

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Movement of plankton between tropical marine ecosystems drives 'sweet spots' for fishing


A new analysis suggests that the movement of plankton and plankton-eating fish play a central role in driving local spikes of extreme biological productivity in tropical coral reefs, creating "sweet spots" of abundant fish.

November 10 2021

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White sharks can easily mistake swimmers or surfers for seals. Our research aims to reduce the risk

The presumed death of 57-year-old Paul Millachip in an apparently fatal shark bite incident near Perth on November 6 is a traumatising reminder that while shark bites are rare, they can have tragic consequences. Despite the understandably huge media attention these incidents generate, there has been little scientific insight into how and why they happen.

November 10 2021

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Meet the penis worm: don’t look away, these widespread yet understudied sea creatures deserve your love

Australia’s oceans are home to a startling array of biodiversity — whales, dolphins, dugongs and more. But not all components of Aussie marine life are the charismatic sort of animal that can feature in a tourism promotion, documentary, or conservation campaign.

The echiuran, or spoon worm, is one such animal. It is also called the penis worm.

There is no “Save the Echiuran Foundation” and no influencers selling merchandise to help save them. But these phallic invertebrates are certainly worth your time as integral and fascinating members — of Australia’s marine ecosystems.

August 18 2021

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Snorkelers discover rare, giant 400-year-old coral – one of the oldest on the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelers on the Great Barrier Reef have discovered a huge coral more than 400 years old which is thought to have survived 80 major cyclones, numerous coral bleaching events and centuries of exposure to other threats. We describe the discovery in research published today.

Our team surveyed the hemispherical structure, which comprises small marine animals and calcium carbonate, and found it’s the Great Barrier Reef’s widest coral, and one of the oldest.

August 20 2021

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Juvenile sea turtles ingest hundreds of plastic pieces in Australian waters

Juvenile Green Turtle. Credit M.Turner
Juvenile Green Turtle. Credit M.Turner




A new study has found juvenile marine turtles are ingesting potentially hundreds of pieces of plastic, off both the Eastern and Western Australia coast.


August 2 2021

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Australia’s marine industry value jumps by 28% over two years

Australia’s marine industry contributes more than $80 billion annually to the national economy according to a report released today. The AIMS Index of Marine Industry is a biannual update of the value the marine sector provides to Australia’s wealth by Deloitte Access Economics, commissioned by AIMS. Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries and for Industry Development Senator Jonathon Duniam, said Australia’s marine industry was one of the most important, vital and fastest-growing parts of the Australian economy.


July 2 2021

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Turning the tables – how table corals are regenerating reefs decades faster than any other coral types

Table corals have been dubbed as extraordinary ecosystem engineers, with new research showing these unique corals can regenerate coral reef habitats on the Great Barrier Reef faster than any other coral type. The new study highlights the importance of tabular Acropora, and is led by the Australian Institute of Marine Science in collaboration with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the University of Queensland and The Nature Conservancy. AIMS scientist and lead author Dr Juan Carlos Ortiz said the research showed overall reef recovery would slow considerably if table corals declined or disappeared on the Great Barrier Reef.


June 2 2021

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Can we use bio-fouling organisms to help extract energy from waves?

People living near the coast are familiar with the power of ocean waves. What we see when a typical wave breaks on a beach is the endpoint of a global energy conversion story. It starts with the sun’s heat driving winds whose energy generates ocean waves which grow and often travel thousands of kilometres.

In this way, the ocean collects an enormous amount of energy. There’s enough energy in waves coming ashore that every metre of coastline could power around five average homes, and much more during storms.

Capturing this energy is not a new idea, but one that faces many challenges. Our research illustrates the potential of enlisting biology in a reversal of the typical marine engineering view that “bio-fouling is bad”.


June 7 2021

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Southern reefs survive the hot summer of 2020


Surveys from the AIMS Long Term Monitoring Program have returned good news from the southern Great Barrier Reef, showing offshore reefs suffered little impact from moderate bleaching during the 2019-20 mass coral bleaching event.  AIMS are closely monitoring the recovery of the reefs, spanning over 490 reefs within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.


March 2 2021

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AI to ‘go fish’



Artificial intelligence may soon be counting and classifying Australia’s tropical fish populations if at least one of the four Australian technology businesses to receive Australian Government seed funding is successful.


February 8 2021

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West coast reefs warming up



Scientists are keeping a close eye on reefs along the west coast of Australia, with sea surface temperatures reaching levels where some coral bleaching is occurring.


February 16 2021

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Squid-inspired robot swims with nature’s most efficient marine animals



Scientists at the University of Southampton and University of Edinburgh have developed a flexible underwater robot that can propel itself through water in the same style as nature’s most efficient swimmer – the Aurelia aurita jellyfish.


January 21 2021

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Octogenarian snapper found in WA becomes oldest tropical reef fish by two decades

An 81-year-old midnight snapper caught off the coast of Western Australia has taken the title of the oldest tropical reef fish recorded anywhere in the world.


The octogenarian fish was found at the Rowley Shoals—about 300km west of Broome—and was part of a study that has revised what we know about the longevity of tropical fish.


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December 1 2020

Abundant corals and fishes emerge from the ancient contours of Arafura Marine Park



Scientists have collected the first fine-scale maps and imagery of reefs and submarine canyons in the rarely visited Arafura Marine Park, revealing seafloor environments with surprisingly diverse coral and fish communities.


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17 November 2020

Biggest fish in the sea are girls


Whale shark girls overtake the boys to become world’s largest fish

Female whale sharks grow more slowly than males but end up being larger, research suggests.

A decade-long study of the iconic fish has found male whale sharks grow quickly, before plateauing at an average adult length of about eight or nine metres.

Female whale sharks grow more slowly but eventually overtake the males, reaching an average adult length of about 14 metres.


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16 September 2020 

Mystery pufferfish circles discovered in Australia's north-west


Mystery circles providing evidence of a potential new species of pufferfish have been discovered in Australia’s north-west by researchers at The University of Western Australia and Australian Institute of Marine Science.


The research, published in the Journal of Fish Biology, placed the discovery at more than 5500km away from the only other similarly described structures off Amami-Oshima Island in southern Japan.


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17 September 2020

Aerial surveys can keep swimmers and sharks safe


A new study has found that drones have the potential to contribute to effective shark bite management strategies that do not require culling sharks or killing other animals as by-catch.


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15 September 2020

First ever global survey of reef sharks reveals widespread decline


A landmark new study published today in Nature by Global FinPrint reveals sharks are virtually absent on many of the world’s coral reefs. Sharks were not observed on nearly 20 percent of the 371 reefs surveyed in 58 countries, indicating a widespread decline that has largely gone undocumented until this global survey.


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23 July 2020

Coral bleaching detected off Kimberley coast


Scientists have discovered a significant coral bleaching event at one of Western Australia’s healthiest coral reefs.


In April and May 2020, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) conducted surveys of the reef system, supported by Parks Australia and Australian Border Force, to confirm reports of significant coral bleaching.


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14 July 2020

Coastal pollution reduces genetic diversity of corals, reef resilience


A new study published in the journal PeerJ by researchers at the University of Hawaii found that human-induced environmental stressors have a large effect on the genetic composition of coral reef populations in Hawaii.


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9 April 2020

Crossbreeding corals: the hunt for ways to heal the Great Barrier Reef

Scientists, farmers and volunteers are looking for ways to lessen the impact of climate change as experts warn a third mass bleaching has taken place.

One of the dive instructors points out two blacktip reef sharks circling a docile green turtle busy grazing on algae. Stingrays of various sizes, colours and shapes pass beneath us. Suddenly, a pod of dolphins appears, swimming over the hard corals.


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4 April 2020

Coronavirus is killing Australia’s lobster export market


With the Wuhan coronavirus suspected to have originated from wild animals in the city’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, Chinese authorities have temporarily banned all wild animal trade. Lobster and other wild-caught aquatic products are exempt from the ban, but demand has plummeted due to people staying home and avoiding both markets and restaurants.


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19 February 2020

Shark nets are destructive and don’t keep you safe – let’s invest in lifeguards

As Australians look forward to the summer beach season, the prospect of shark encounters may cross their minds. Shark control has been the subject of furious public debate in recent years and while some governments favour lethal methods, it is the wrong route.


Our study, published today in People and Nature, presents further evidence that lethal shark hazard management damages marine life and does not keep people safe.


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4 December 2019

250 Million Pieces of Trash at Remote Top End Australian Beach



A Sea Shepherd beach clean-up campaign in Northeast Arnhem Land has further exposed the catastrophic impact of marine plastic pollution on mainland Australia.


Over seven tonnes of marine plastic pollution was removed by ten volunteers from Sea Shepherd Australia and Indigenous Rangers from the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation in a two-week-long collaboration at Djulpan Beach on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory.



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22 Sep 2019

Marine Science News

The secret lives of silky sharks: unveiling their whereabouts supports their protection

Is the Great Barrier Reef reviving – or dying? Here’s what’s happening beyond the headlines

New Australian laws for ‘engineering’ the ocean must balance environment protection and responsible research

Keppel corals show resilience following severe bleaching

New insights into coral symbiosis after bleaching

Marine Science facts

The vampire squid gets its name not because it has a taste for blood but from the dark skin on its arms that makes it look like it’s wearing a Dracula-esque cape?


The oceans provide 99% of the living space on the planet containing 50-80% of all life.


The Oceans cover 70% of the earths suface


The deepest part of the ocean is called the Mariana Trench, which is around 7 miles deep and is located in the South Pacific Ocean.



The water pressure at the bottom of the Mariana Trench is eight tons per square inch. This means the pressure there is enough to crush you.


The largest mountain range is found underwater and is called the Mid-Oceanic Ridge that is around 65,000 kilometres long.


Sponges are older than dinosaurs.


Half the Oxygen we breath is produced in the Ocean.


 Irukandji jelly fish, with just a brush of venom leaves almost no mark. But after about a half hour you develop Irukandji syndrome, a debilitating mix of nausea, vomiting, severe pain, difficulty breathing, drenching sweating and sense of impending doom. You get so sick that your biggest worry is that you’re not going to die.


The most remote point in the oceans is called Point Nemo.


The Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans are known as the three major oceans.