CSIRO researchers have developed an online tool known as CONNIE to help understand the influence of ocean currents on the breeding success of commercial species such as sardines, tuna, lobsters and pearl oysters.

The challenge

Visualising challenges to marine ecosystems

Marine ecosystems are facing increasing pressures associated with changing environmental conditions and the spread of pollutants, pathogens and invasive species. While major advances have been made in our ability to model the controlling oceanographic processes, accessing this information in a relevant form has been a major challenge for managers across many sectors. There is a strong need for innovative access and visualisation tools that support timely and cost-effective decision-making.

A view through the trees of a Tasmanian aquaculture salmon farm

A Tasmanian aquaculture farm

Our response

Collaboration to model ocean movements

We have developed an open-access online modelling and visualisation tool known as CONNIE (short for CONNectivity InterfacE). The tool calculates the movement and dispersal of almost any substance or planktonic organism in the ocean. The model is capable of replicating relatively complex behaviours such as the spreading of oil slicks, the transport and sinking of sediments, or the daily vertical migration of zooplankton. Most importantly, the tool is user-friendly and can provide results within minutes.

Many agencies and industry groups have contributed to the development of CONNIE including:

The results

CONNIE benefits many marine applications

The CONNIE tool is now being used widely in applications such as:

  • informing control strategies for crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef
  • understanding the recent introduction and spread of Pacific oyster mortality syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania and identifying leases at risk
  • identifying spawning grounds of fishery target species and protected species
  • risk assessments for new industrial developments and other coastal activities
  • incident responses and investigations relating to spills, unauthorised discharges and search and rescue operations

CONNIE is also supporting fundamental research across the broader marine science community and has already contributed to more than 30 scientific publications.

CONNIE is used to investigate an oil-spill, using ocean movements to abck-track and identify the vessel of origin after seven days

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