Australian Marine Parks

These projects will build our understanding of Australian Marine Park values and connect more Australians to our incredible marine environment.

Marine Parks Discovery Zone

Busselton Jetty Inc – $410,000

Busselton Jetty is set to house the world’s largest underwater windows in the marine environment. Scheduled for completion in March 2022, the Australian Underwater Discovery Centre project will include an extensive indoor exhibition component.

This project will form part of this larger venture and see the development of a Marine Parks Discovery Zone. The zone will use interactive programs, themed based exhibits and talks, interactive models, projection, audio, art and aboriginal interpretation to improve knowledge and understanding of Australian Marine Parks.

This information aims to develop a sense of stewardship for the diverse and unique underwater environments, as well as educate people about Australian Marine Parks and their importance in preserving our unique marine environment.

Coral Sea Marine Park Discovery Centre

Cairns Aquarium and Reef Research Centre Pty Ltd – $100,000

Welcoming over 400,000 visitors each year, the Cairns Aquarium is a major tourist attraction. Featuring species and habitats from Tropical North Queensland, the aquarium has 71 live displays, 16,000 fish and aquatic creatures and 180 educational signs.

This project will build on the current Coral Sea marine park displays, with the addition of educational and informative signage on the pressures impacting the Coral Sea Marine Park including climate change and invasive species. The display will also house a replica fish and live invertebrates from the Coral Sea Marine Park.

These mediums will educate, inform and increase awareness about the Coral Sea Marine Park, marine park management and protection, by engaging visitors of all ages.

Creating immersive virtual experiences that build connection, understanding and value of Australian Marine Parks

Deakin University – $345,131

It’s not often that we get to dive beneath the waves and explore the depths of our oceans, so this project provides people with an opportunity to explore and learn more about our marine parks from the comfort of their home, school or office.

Building on existing information, seabed maps and biological surveys will be used to design and deliver immersive virtual experiences including video content, augmented and virtual reality, and interactive web experiences for a global audience.

This project will focus on showcasing the beauty and ecological richness of Apollo Marine Park and provide a window into the wider South-east Marine Parks Network.

Commonalities between the Wessel Marine Park and a culturally important site in the Dhimurru Indigenous Protection Area

Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation – $449,378

Partially overlapping sea country within the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) is Wessel Marine Park. Led by Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation, this project will see research activities in and around Wessel Marine Park produce high quality seafloor and habitat mapping, as well as surveys of fish and benthic communities.

The research will enable habitat comparisons between the Marine Park and IPA and establish baseline data for guiding future management and research. Traditional Owners will use the findings to inform Cultural Values mapping of sea country.

Far West Aboriginal Corporation Marine Protection Plan

Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation – $98,000

The Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation will build on their extensive knowledge and skills to align their Healthy Country Plan to the marine environment within the Great Australian Bight, Western Eyre and Murat Marine Parks.

This project will see the Corporation identify avenues to build skills in protecting sea country and ultimately enable more engagement of Traditional Owners in marine park management.

Norfolk Island Nearshore and Coastal Habitat Mapping

iXblue Pty Ltd – $399,000

This seafloor mapping initiative aims to understand the topography and shallow water habitats of the waters around Norfolk Island. The information will help understanding of the biological communities in Norfolk Marine Park and provide a baseline for measuring future change.

Information and data will be shared online, and virtual communication and education resources designed to engage the community via immersive 3D displays of the environment.

Diving into the deep, the unique habitats of the Coral Sea

James Cook University – $391,438

The Coral Sea Marine Park covers approximately 990,000 km2 and includes over 30 individual reef systems that are surrounded by deep waters. This project will use a combination of innovative and emerging technologies, leading experts in fish and coral taxonomy, and acoustic tracking, and an award winning underwater cinematographer to research and better understand the Coral Sea deep-water reef habitats and the connectivity between them.

This project will engage and inspire through a series of promotional and educational videos that will provide unprecedented insight into the unique nature of the deep-water reefs in the Coral Sea Marine Park.

Mapping Marra Sea Country with a focus on benthic habitats of the Limmen Marine Park

James Cook University – $283,720

The structure and function of marine ecosystems is underpinned by benthic habitats. This project will see a team of Marra and li-Anthawirryarra rangers, and marine and social scientists working together to survey the seafloor habitats within and adjacent to Limmen Marine Park and the Northern Territory’s Limmen Bight Marine Park.

The project will also produce a short film about the Limmen Marine Park from the perspective of the Marra people and sea rangers.

Deepening our understanding of Mayala cultural, social and spiritual connections for collaborative management of Mayala sea country within the Kimberley Marine Park

Kimberley Land Council Aboriginal Corporation – $335,086

Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years. This project is an exciting opportunity to support Mayala Traditional Owners in the Kimberley to engage in management of sea country through knowledge sharing and experiential learning, in and adjacent to the Kimberley Marine Park.

Guided by Mayala Country Plan priorities, the project will involve expeditions to sea country aimed at reinforcing cultural, social and spiritual connections. The focus is on engaging young people as future Country managers, to learn about marine park management and experience ranger work through practical projects.

How effective are Australian Marine Parks at protecting EPBC listed species

Macquarie University – $151,285

This project will use existing data and maps to identify where listed species occur within Australian Marine Parks. The project will produce maps and a prioritisation model to rank which listed species are making the most use of marine parks, and those which are under the greatest threat.

The information provided by this project will help managers protect important habitats and precious marine wildlife.

Multi-media campaign to educate and empower responsible care and use of the Norfolk Marine Park

Norfolk Island Regional Council – $236,580

Directly accessible from the shoreline, Norfolk Marine Park is home to one the world’s most southern coral reefs, harbouring a diverse, rich and unique marine life. Two short films will be developed – one aimed at inspiring the local community to reduce their waste footprint, including by eliminating single use plastic, and the other for visitors to the island.

A multi-media campaign will focus on educating and empowering the local community and visitors to take responsibility for the protection of Norfolk Marine Park.

Tapping into the knowledge of professional fishers to inform research and management of sawfish and river sharks

Northern Territory Seafood Council Incorporated – $331,924

The fishing grounds of northern Australia are home to many threatened species.

Working with professional fishers’ this project aims to improve knowledge of Sawfish and River sharks in northern Australia. Fieldwork will include collection of water samples to extract DNA, structured fishing surveys, genetic sampling, and tagging of sawfish encountered.

The opportunity for share knowledge between fishers and scientists will contribute to improved understanding and management of these unique species that use Australian Marine Parks.

Nearshore Marine Habitat Mapping of the Norfolk Island Marine Park

Pendoley Environmental Pty Ltd – $61,940

This citizen science project will train members of the local community in habitat survey methods to support the development of a habitat map for Norfolk Island.

With local knowledge, the use of drop and towed cameras, and aerial and satellite imagery, the habitat maps will be used to both inform marine park management, and engage and educate the local community in monitoring the health of the marine environment.

Showcasing Reef Biodiversity in Australian Marine Parks

Reef Life Survey Foundation Incorporated – $382,833

Through efforts of dedicated and highly trained citizen scientists, Reef Life Survey (RLS) has collected detailed reef biodiversity data and stunning imagery in Australian Marine Parks since 2013.

This project will bring together and showcase all the RLS data on reef biodiversity in our marine parks. The project will deliver an exciting new online tracking tool for the RLS website, engaging web-based content and a coffee table book showcasing the truly amazing dive opportunities in Australian Marine Parks.

Coral Sea Tourism Operators Association Co-operative Mooring Infrastructure

The Cod Hole and Ribbon Reef Operators Association Inc – $421,802

The Coral Sea Marine Park is wild and remote, boasting unspoiled world-class dive sites. The fragile reef habitats are vital to the health of marine ecosystems and are highly susceptible to anchor damage.

The Cod Hole and Ribbon Reefs Operators Association Inc (CHARROA), an association of marine tourism industry operators with ecotourism accreditation, have cooperatively maintained moorings at iconic dive sites in the Coral Sea for the past 20 years. These moorings helpto protect the sensitive underwater habitats and enable scuba divers and snorkelers to gain easy and safe access to the reefs.

This project aims to decommission and replace the existing moorings in the Coral Sea Marine Park with new environmentally sensitive moorings at dive locations at Osprey, Bougainville, Holmes and Flinders reefs. The new moorings will improve on existing outdated infrastructure, mitigate anchoring damage to fragile reef habitats, and enable the continuity of world class nature-based tourism in the Coral Sea Marine Park.

Finding the ‘Fab Five’ to Visually Engage Users and Stakeholders about the Value of Australian Marine Parks

The University of Adelaide – $257,278

Australian marine environments are of unique and outstanding value, yet engaging people in their protection can be challenging because these remote underwater environments are distant and out-of-sight for most people.

This project seeks to build community awareness of the value of Australian Marine Parks and encourage engagement with their protection and management.

Regional South Australian communities will be engaged through this project, with interest in the marine environment galvanised via a focus on some of South Australia’s most charismatic marine species. The project will deliver innovative art, community engagement events and development of a Digital Story Map resource to document and share the value of the Fab Five and their habitats. The Fab Five include (i) shark species, (ii) Leafy Sea Dragon, (iii) Sea lions, (iv) Giant Cuttlefish and (v) the Southern Right Whale.

Measuring and communicating the benefits, how well do Marine Parks in the eastern Great Australian Bight protect regional biodiversity and seafloor habitats

The University of Adelaide – $425,320

Australian Marine Parks are used to manage and safeguard ecosystems. By undertaking surveys using autonomous underwater vehicles and towed camera systems, this project will investigate the condition of habitats inside and outside the Great Australian Bight and Western Eyre Marine Parks, and provide baseline data and descriptions of seafloor ecosystems in Murat Marine Park.

Returning to sites surveyed within the Great Australian Bight in the early 2000s, this project has potential to reveal some interesting insights into how these habitats have fared since the park came into effect, with the Great Australian Bight Marine Park designated in 1998, over a decade earlier than the rest of the network.

The methods used to survey the seabed will generate extensive imagery of spectacular seafloor habitats that are rarely, if ever, seen by humans. Findings will help to build knowledge of habitats within these parks and be presented to the public bringing awareness and understanding, and encouraging support for these wild and remote marine parks.

Fishing for knowledge – understanding our marine parks through local expert knowledge

The University of Western Australia – $195,272

Recognising the invaluable local expert knowledge of those who have spent their lives on the water, researchers will work collaboratively with commercial and recreational fishers to document information about marine ecosystems throughout the North and South-west networks of Australian Marine Parks.

This project will apply participatory mapping approaches to record fisher knowledge of marine park habitats, species and ecological processes. An Eco-narrative of values and a knowledge sharing roadshow celebrating fishers’ knowledge, will help to build public awareness and understanding of our marine parks.

UWA/BHP Biodiversity values: Biodiversity and societal benefits of restricted access marine areas and marine parks

The University of Western Australia – $218,358

Building on an existing partnership between the University of Western Australia and BHP, this project will increase our understanding of the range of habitats and species within Ningaloo, Montebello and Dampier Marine Parks.

The project will build on existing benchmark data and combine novel data collection methods in multiple use, restricted access and no-take areas within and around the marine parks. It will help to understand how different management arrangements impact biodiversity and societal benefits, and thereby contribute to marine park management.

People of the Sea Wadandi Sea Country Plan, Cultural Protocols and Education Package for the South-west Marine Parks

Undalup Association Inc – $139,300

The Wadandi People (Saltwater People) have a long association with the South West of Western Australia. Undalup’s vision is to share the culture, traditions, knowledge and history of the Wadandi people with the broader South West communities – to impart an understanding of the importance of Boodja (Country) and to teach the significance of, and respect for, the Wadandi Elders and Traditional Custodians.

The project team, comprised of Wadandi Elders and community partners, will collaborate to develop a Wadandi Sea County Cultural Plan, providing an opportunity for the Wadandi community to share a holistic view of their cultural seascape and offer a new perspective to locals and visitors alike.

The Plan will build on existing maps of cultural values and knowledge systems to improve understanding of Wadandi culture, and social and spiritual connections to sea country.

Extending seabed horizons: Seamap Australia tools and analytics for marine park managers

University of Tasmania – $217,278

Seamap Australia is a first-of-its-kind resource integrating seafloor habitat maps with a range of biological, physical, and geochemical information into a single interactive mapping portal. It is underpinned by a seafloor habitat classification scheme that enables a nationally consistent description of Australia’s vast undersea habitats.

Seamap Australia provides an important focal point for collaboration and data sharing aimed at improving our understanding and management of Australia’s marine resources. The project will leverage the support of the user community to strengthen Seamap Australia’s governance arrangements, helping to ensure a user-focused direction for future development of the platform.

The project will also set the stage for new seafloor habitat data to be integrated with the dozens of existing collections already brought together by Seamap Australia. The process of integrating data into the uniformly classified national collection will be formalised into an instructional resource for data contributors. That process will then be put into action with additional existing habitat data being added to the Seamap Australia collection.

A workshop with stakeholders from a range of sectors will help to identify current knowledge gaps and data barriers. Seamap Australia’s interactive mapping tool will receive a lift with the development of new user-focused functionality, including the addition of novel analytical tools and integration of new data collections, targeted to meet the needs of users in Government and industry. With these improvements to the platform, environmental managers will be able to gain unique new insights into the values they manage.

Understanding and communicating drivers of change affecting coral reefs in Australian Marine Parks

University of Tasmania – $149,077

The cumulative impacts of climate change, habitat loss, over-harvesting and invasive species threaten our marine life. This project will involve the most detailed analysis yet undertaken worldwide to identify drivers of ecological change affecting coral reefs across tropical Australian Marine Parks.

Established in 2007, the Reef Life Survey (RLS) program has involved data collection by an international network of trained volunteer (or ‘citizen’) scientists and professional biologists largely acting in a voluntary capacity. RLS provides the most comprehensive dataset for describing the distribution, abundance and change in coral reef communities across Australian Marine Parks.

Researchers from the University of Tasmania will validate and analyse existing data across 345 sites in Australia. This analysis will enable marine park managers to make informed decisions when managing activities in our parks.