Australian Marine Parks

Thursday 13 August 2020

Last month, researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA) took advantage of easing COVID restrictions to head out into South-west Corner Marine Park and drop some baited underwater cameras. The team were rewarded with images of hidden cities of kelps, seagrass and sponge gardens, teeming with iconic local species such as dhufish and pink snapper.

The data and imagery collected during this short trip will help the UWA team plan their 2021 surveys in South-west Corner Marine Park. Once collected, the data will provide seafloor maps and a range of baseline information for the marine park, including: the type, location and extent of habitats; and diversity and abundance of marine species. In the future, this information will allow Parks Australia to measure the effects of management, including a comparison of different zone types.

 

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Underwater vision captures South West marine life

 

Every trip to an Australian Marine Park is a journey of discovery. The project lead, Dr Tim Langlois, is particularly excited about this project, as it doesn’t just promise unique insights into the local marine environment but will also be nationally relevant. This is because a lot of the data will be collected from deeper, offshore waters and research in these more remote marine habitats is rare.

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Surveying South-west Corner Marine Park's habitats and fishes

 

Another unique aspect of this project will be the involvement of the Wadandi People, the traditional owners who recently shared some of their cultural knowledge of sea country. This knowledge has been used to inform the selection of survey sites, and the research team will be sharing their findings back to the local custodians.

The aim of this project, funded by the National Environmental Science Program’s Marine Biodiversity Hub, UWA and Parks Australia, is to provide the essential knowledge necessary to understand the health of our offshore rocky reefs on Australia’s continental shelf and assess the conservation and sustainable use benefits of marine parks around the Capes.

The South West is a highly popular eco-tourism destination valued by locals and visitors. This project is about strengthening our knowledge of the marine environment and shaping marine park management. Through these steps, we’re ensuring that the offshore marine environment around the Capes is used sustainably, now and in the future.