Australian Marine Parks

Tuesday 22 November 2022

Credit: CSIRO research vessel RV Investigator with deep-sea tow camera

For the first time, the relatively unexplored habitats and seabed biodiversity of the Gascoyne and Carnarvon Canyon Marine Parks will be surveyed by a team of scientists onboard research vessel (RV) Investigator - operated by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.

The research team departed from Fremantle on a month-long voyage to survey the established marine parks off the coast of Western Australia.

CSIRO is leading the voyage in collaboration with Parks Australia, Western Australian Museum and a team of partner museums.

It marks the first scientific baseline marine survey of the marine parks and will increase our understanding of the biological habitats and diversity in the marine parks.

The voyage is exploring to depths of more than 5000 metres where there is little or no daylight. It’s likely that new species of marine animals will be discovered while collecting data on the diversity of fishes and other marine invertebrates.

The research team will use high-tech cameras, nets and sleds to collect samples and capture images thousands of metres below the ocean surface.

Conducting research in remote, offshore, or deep ocean environments is generally challenging.

The voyage findings will deliver valuable insights to help Parks Australia manage the Gascoyne and Carnarvon Canyon Marine Parks and their unique biodiversity.

The marine parks connect ocean habitats across hundreds of kilometres and include some of the most diverse continental slope marine life in Australia.

This includes canyons that link Gascoyne Marine Park cut into the continental shelf from the deep ocean and funnel vital nutrients towards World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef.

The voyage partners will be working closely with partner museums and research collections including Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, as well as CSIRO’s Australian National Fish Collection.

This research is supported by a grant of sea time on RV Investigator from the CSIRO Marine National Facility.

You can watch a live stream from the voyage until 19 December on the Marine National Facility voyages web page.