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Ningaloo Outlook 4 

[Music plays and an image appears of the sea with land in the background and then images move through of rolling waves, and then a close view of the water]

[Image changes to show Damian Thomson talking to the camera]

Damian Thomson: My name is Damian Thomson. 

[Image changes to show a CSIRO Research boat moving through the water and then the image changes to show a view looking down into the water showing a turtle moving over a coral reef]

I’m an experimental scientist with CSIRO with the Coasts and Ocean Research Program and lead the Shallow Reefs Sub Project within the Ningaloo Outlook Project.

[Images move through of the CSIRO Research boat moving through the water, a scuba diver moving down into the water, fish swimming over the coral reef, and a large whale shark swimming]

So, Ningaloo Outlook it’s a five year collaboration between CSIRO and BHP, who in combination have invested $7 million into better understanding the health of the Ningaloo coral reef system and also the important mega fauna that’s here.

[Images move through of Damien talking to the camera, a school of fish swimming over the reef, and a scuba diver taking notes under water while swimming over the reef]

So, as part of the Shallow Reefs Sub Project we conduct annual surveys effectively for monitoring the health of the coral and fish assemblages.

[Image changes to show an inset map of the Ningaloo Reef pinpointing Jurabi and Osprey]

So, here we maintain survey sites at 70 locations between Jurabi in the north and Osprey in the south. 

[Images move through to show the Ningaloo reef, a diver swimming over coral underwater, the research boat moving through the water, and an aerial view looking down on the boat]

Our sites span three main habitats, the reef slope, the shallow reef flat area where we are now, and the slightly deeper but closer in shore lagoonal habitats. 

[Images move through of researchers at work on the boat, a diver donning oxygen tanks, a diver moving around underwater taking notes, and tropical fish swimming over the reef]

And the surveys at each of these locations encompass four main tasks and they are underwater visual census for both large, mobile fish, and smaller cryptic site specific fish species, 

[Image changes to show divers placing a measuring tape on the sea floor, a close view of a diver fixing the tape, a close view of a diver attaching a measurer, and fish swimming around the measurer]

and benthic surveys which comprise a mixture of traditional and more novel techniques.

[Image changes to show a diver moving along a measuring tape and taking photographs, and then the image changes to show Damien talking to the camera]

The traditional techniques we use are things such as the standard photo transects where you capture images of the sea floor at regular intervals along a length of transect tape and then they’re analysed to determine the percent cover of the major benthic groups.

[Image changes to show a view looking down on a diver swimming around the coral reef]

And we combine that with some more novel techniques, things such as the creation of three dimensional photographic models. 

[Image changes to show an aerial view of a diver moving around the coral reef, and then the image changes to show a 3D image of the coral reef and the image rotates on the screen]

And these models are brilliant because not only do they encompass a much larger area than what we capture with the photo transects, we also have the ability to extract rugosity and measures of things such as colony size.

[Image changes to show a diver swimming through the water]

The amount of information we’re able to extract using this combination of methods is quite impressive. 

[Image changes to show a view of the boat moving towards the camera and the sun can be shining on the wake of the water behind the boat]

It provides us a better understanding of the health of coral and fish assemblages up and down the Ningaloo Reef.

[Music plays and the image changes to show a picture of a turtle and a fish swimming in a wave, and the CSIRO and BHP logos appear beneath the text: Ningaloo Outlook]

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