Dr John Keesing
Research voyage out of Fremantle to survey seabed habitats and biodiversity in the Gascoyne Marine Park (Western Australia), which stretches from depths of less than 100 m to over 5000 m.
This voyage will provide vital data to assist marine park manager, Parks Australia, in maintaining the natural values of the Gascoyne Marine Park and Carnarvon Canyon Marine Park, which will also be surveyed. The Gascoyne region was identified for protection as an area of national significance and a new marine park was proclaimed in 2013. The Gascoyne Marine Park lies in an area with great but poorly known biological diversity and potential for economic development. This is the first scientific baseline marine survey of the marine park. The research will involve an intensive program of surveys and sampling conducted at 52 stations across 5 transects in the marine park and surrounds.
The voyage will be led by Dr John Keesing from CSIRO and is being conducted in partnership with Parks Australia and the Western Australian Museum, as well as leading Australian museums and research collections including the Australian National Fish Collection.
There will be 2 other projects included on this voyage:
- Triacanthodidae tissue samples (Dr Will White, CSIRO): Spikefish tissue sampling project
- BGC-Argo float deployments (Prof Tom Trull, CSIRO): Deployment of one biogeochemical Argo float.
The science team on this voyage includes 32 participants from 4 institutions, including 2 Australian museums and one New Zealand museum.
To safeguard the health and well-being of participants, strict COVID-19 protocols apply to all activities on this voyage. This includes a 5-day quarantine on shore and 2-phase PCR testing of all participants for COVID-19 prior to boarding the vessel.
The voyage successfully described the habitats and quantified fish and seabed biodiversity of the Gascoyne Marine Park, which stretches from depths of less than 100 m to over 5000 m, off the coast of Western Australia. The voyage will likely lead to the description of numerous new species of marine animals. The bathymetry of large areas of previously unmapped parts of the area was determined. This included large parts of the National Park zoned (sanctuary area) in the Gascoyne Marine Park and parts of the Carnarvon Canyons Marine Park.
The data obtained refines the bioregionalization boundaries of the slope provinces and bathomes in the northwest of Australia and helps to resolve debate around the importance of the region from the point of view of the levels of endemicity of fishes. As a result of this voyage, the conservation needs of the marine parks are more fully understood. The discovery of new species of marine animals will assist managers to maintain the park’s natural values into the future.
The voyage sampled a remarkable range of sharks, fish and invertebrates. Many of those sampled from the deeper depths are likely new to science emphasising that a great deal of unknown biodiversity remains to be discovered in the deeper waters around Australia.
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- 9News.com.au: Australian scientists find shark graveyard and new species on bottom of ocean
- Forbes: Scientists Discover Shark Graveyard In Australia
- CSIRO: Research vessel explores new depths of the Gascoyne Marine Park
- Western Australian Museum: Valuing Australia’s new Gascoyne Marine Park