Australian Marine Parks

Wessel Marine Park Multibeam Survey February 2019 and West Cape York Marine Park Multibeam Survey November 2019

Case, M., Harries, S. and Miller, K. (2019). Wessel Marine Park Multibeam Survey. Report to Parks Australia.

Harries, S., Case, M. & Colquhoun, J., (2020). West Cape York Marine Park – Multibeam Survey Report Rev 1 April 2020. Report to Parks Australia. pp. 14 incl. appendices.



There is very little available information on the bathymetry and benthic habitats within the North Marine Parks Network. As at May 2020, only about five per cent of the Network has been mapped at a high resolution.

In 2019, we contracted the Australian Institute of Marine Science to undertake multibeam bathymetry mapping of Wessel Marine Park and West Cape York Marine Park during two separate voyages to and from Darwin to Thursday Island on the Research Vessel Solander. Opportunities to map parts of our marine parks while scientific research vessels like the RV Solander are in transit are one way that we are building our scientific knowledge about Australian Marine Parks.

These reports detail the operational aspects of the surveys and provide summaries of the multibeam eco sounder (MBES) data that was acquired and processed.


The primary objective of the surveys was to undertake approximately 48 hours total of MBES surveying to quantitatively map parts of the seafloor of the Wessel and West Cape York Marine Parks. This will contribute to our understanding of the biodiversity values of the marine parks. The survey of Wessel Marine Park was targeted at a previously unmapped southern area of the marine park. The survey of West Cape York Marine Park comprehensively mapped Carpentaria Shoal, as well as sparsely surveyed grounds to the south and the reported location of a shipwreck.

Seafloor mapping is a key way to understand the complexity of benthic habitats in marine parks. This information helps us target where we should undertake more detailed survey methods like underwater video surveys and seafloor sampling.