Dr Rudy Kloser
Charter voyage to the central and eastern Great Australian Bight (GAB) region to survey deep water ecoystems.
In order to develop a model of the GAB ecosystem, research will include the collection and sampling of biota to assess the food web and biodiversity, including phytoplankton, zooplankton and microplankton (as well as opportunistic nekton, such as squids and tuna). Water sampling wil also be undertaken to characterise the water column and sediment coring will be used to understand the structure of sediment microbial communities.
This voyage is part of the Great Australian Bight Research Program, a collaboration between BP, CSIRO, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), the University of Adelaide, and Flinders University. The Program aims to provide a whole-of-system understanding of the environmental, economic and social values of the region, providing an information source for all to use.
The voyage delivered a diverse range of research including sampling ocean physics and nutrients, sampling pelagic microbes to nekton, and producing a benthic inventory of species from 200 to 3000 m. Initial science results were enlightening with higher production and biomass observed offshore and in the central GAB than previously reported. Detailed sampling of the nutrients and biota will enable researchers to understand the main mechanism responsible for this production and biomass. This improved knowledge of the structure and function of the central GAB ecosystem will be used to help inform ecosystem models, and design long term monitoring programs of the region.
It is expected that uptake of data collected on this voyage will accrue over the long term through a better understanding of benthic species diversity, pelagic production and biomass in the previously unsampled offshore waters of the central GAB. The data and derived knowledge will be used for input into ecosystem models and to help formulate future monitoring programs for the sustainable management of the region.
Benthic characterisation in this region is particularly important because there are virtually no existing benthic biological data beyond continental shelf depths (<200 m ).