Marine Science News

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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.

 

Aug 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

Climate change may change the way ocean waves impact 50% of the world’s coastlines

The rise in sea levels is not the only way climate change will affect the coasts. Our research, published today in Nature Climate Change, found a warming planet will also alter ocean waves along more than 50% of the world’s coastlines.

If the climate warms by more than 2℃ beyond pre-industrial levels, southern Australia is likely to see longer, more southerly waves that could alter the stability of the coastline.

20 August 2019

 

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No-take marine areas help fishers (and fish) far more than we thought

One hectare of ocean in which fishing is not allowed (a marine protected area) produces at least five times the amount of fish as an equivalent unprotected hectare, according to new research published today. This outsized effect means marine protected areas, or MPAs, are more valuable than we previously thought for conservation and increasing fishing catches in nearby areas.

Previous research has found the number of offspring from a fish increases exponentially as they grow larger, a disparity that had not been taken into account in earlier modelling of fish populations. By revising this basic assumption, the true value of MPAs is clearer.

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July 4 2019

 

Next generation corals undergo first field tests on the Great Barrier Reef

 

Hundreds of juvenile corals bred at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) have survived being transplanted on the Great Barrier Reef, in a promising early test to help corals increase their resilience to marine heatwaves.

 

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2 July 2019

Deep sea carbon reservoirs once super-heated the Earth – could it happen again?

As concern grows over human-induced climate change, many scientists are looking back through Earth’s history to events that can shed light on changes occurring today. Analyzing how the planet’s climate system has changed in the past improves our understanding of how it may behave in the future.

 

It is now clear from these studies that abrupt warming events are built into Earth’s climate system. They have occurred when disturbances in carbon storage at Earth’s surface released greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. One of the grand challenges for climate scientists like me is to determine where these releases came from before humans were present, and what triggered them. Importantly, we want to know if such an event could happen again.

 

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Floating cities: the future or a washed-up idea?

Humans have a long history of living on water. Our water homes span the fishing villages in Southeast Asia, Peru and Bolivia to modern floating homes in Vancouver and Amsterdam.

 

As our cities grapple with overcrowding and undesirable living situations, the ocean remains a potential frontier for sophisticated water-based communities.

 

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New threat revealed for baby turtles: jetties shelter hatch-ling hungry predators

New research has revealed that marine turtle hatchlings entering the ocean close to jetties have a high likelihood of being eaten.

 

 

The study, published today in Biological Conservation, found structures such as jetties are an attractive shelter for hungry fish as they lie in wait for an easy evening meal.

 

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Tiger sharks revealed as lazy predators

One of the ocean’s top predators – the tiger shark - has been revealed as a relaxed and sometimes lazy hunter by scientists studying their behavior.

 

Researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Murdoch University’s Harry Butler Institute attached specialist tags which combined cameras with motion and environmental sensors, to 27 tiger sharks in the Ningaloo Reef off the coast of Western Australia.

 

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Most recreational fishers in Australia support marine sanctuaries

More than 70% of recreational fishers support no-take marine sanctuaries according to our research, published recently in Marine Policy.

This study contradicts the popular perception that fishers are against establishing no-take marine reserves to protect marine life. In fact, the vast majority of fishers we surveyed agreed that no-take sanctuaries improve marine environmental values, and do not impair their fishing.

 

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The presence of people is slowing shark recovery on the Great Barrier Reef

 

Much of the Great Barrier Reef is legally protected in an effort to conserve and rebuild the fragile marine environment. Marine reserves are considered the gold standard for conservation, and often shape our perception of what an “undisturbed ecosystem” should look like.

 

However research published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, suggests that “no-take” marine reserves may be failing shark populations on the Great Barrier Reef.

 

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Shark Bay: A World Heritage Site at catastrophic risk

 

 

The devastating bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017 rightly captured the world’s attention. But what’s less widely known is that another World Heritage-listed marine ecosystem in Australia, Shark Bay, was also recently devastated by extreme temperatures, when a brutal marine heatwave struck off Western Australia in 2011.

 

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Some sharks have declined by 92% in the past half-century off Queensland’s coast

 

 

There has been a striking decline in the number of large sharks caught off Queensland’s coast over the past 50 years, suggesting that populations have declined dramatically.

Catch numbers of large apex sharks (hammerheads, tigers and white sharks) declined by 74-92%, and the chance of catching no sharks at any given beach per year has increased by as much as seven-fold.

 

14 December 2018

 

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Explainer: how the Antarctic Circumpolar Current helps keep Antarctica frozen

 

 

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, or ACC, is the strongest ocean current on our planet. It extends from the sea surface to the bottom of the ocean, and encircles Antarctica.

 

It is vital for Earth’s health because it keeps Antarctica cool and frozen. It is also changing as the world’s climate warms. 

 

The ACC carries an estimated 165 million to 182 million cubic metres of water every second (a unit also called a “Sverdrup”) from west to east, more than 100 times the flow of all the rivers on Earth. It provides the main connection between the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans

 

16 Nov 2018

 

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Scientists studying ocean productivity have uncovered a volcanic lost world teeming with marine life off the Tasmanian coast.

The lost world was uncovered during detailed seafloor mapping by CSIRO research vessel Investigator while on a 25-day research voyage led by scientists from the Australian National University (ANU). The mapping has revealed, for the first time, a diverse chain of volcanic seamounts located in deep water about 400 km east of Tasmania.

11 Oct 2018

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SharkSpotter combines AI and drone technology to spot sharks and aid swimmers on Australian beaches

Four tiger sharks have now been captured and killed following two separate attacks off the coast of North Queensland last week. Despite being relatively rare, shark attacks, or the threat of attacks, not only disrupt recreational beach activities but can affect associated tourist industries. Shark nets are a common solution to preventing shark attacks on Australian beaches, but they pose dangers to marine ecosystems.

 

28 Sep 2018     Read More

Scientists make breakthrough in war against crown-of-thorns starfish

Researchers at the Australian Institute of Marine Science have made a significant breakthrough in the war against crown-of-thorns starfish, on the Great Barrier Reef.

 

AIMS’ senior research leader Dr Sven Uthicke and biochemist Jason Doyle, along with echinoderm expert Dr Miles Lamare from the University of Otago, in New Zealand, have developed a cost effective method for detecting DNA of the coral-eating pest.

 

18 Sep 2018

 

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Whale sharks gather at a few specific locations around the world – now we know why

The whale shark is the largest fish in the world, but much of its lifecycle remains shrouded in mystery. These gentle giants gather in just a handful of places around the globe – something which has long baffled scientists – but our new research has started to explain why.

 

Better understanding of whale shark movements could help prevent further population loss in a species that has already experienced a 63% population decline over the past 75 years.

 

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Marine Science News

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

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

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

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

Juvenile sea turtles ingest hundreds of plastic pieces in Australian waters

Marine Science facts

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

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.