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Voyage Number


Voyage Dates

30 Sep, 2022 to 03 Nov, 2022

Voyage Location

Darwin to Fremantle

Chief Scientist

Dr Tim O'Hara


Museums Victoria Research Institute

Voyage summary

Research voyage from Darwin to Fremantle, traveling via Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands to complete a marine biodiversity survey of the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT) that belong to Australia. This voyage will complete a research project that started in 2021 on voyage IN2021_V04.

These voyages will provide vital data to support the management of the new marine parks that were established around these islands in March 2022.

We know almost nothing about the biodiversity values of Australia’s IOT around the remote Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. This project will complete a world-first investigation of the marine biodiversity of the massive underwater mountains (seamounts) that make up these islands. These seamounts are mostly of late Cretaceous age (65-80 million years ago) and may harbour ancient endemic communities. Marine habitats on seamounts are also easily damaged by human activities and this voyage will gather important data for their conservation and management. An experienced team of scientists will describe the marine life from these remote seamounts, use advanced DNA techniques to study their origin, and evaluate the conservation significance of these unexplored habitats.

The voyage will be led by Dr Tim O'Hara from Museums Victoria Research Institute and is being conducted in partnership with Parks Australia, 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:

  • Bush Blitz outreach program (Kate Cranney, Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water)
  • Argo float deployments (Mr Craig Hanstein, CSIRO): Deployment of 4 standard Argo floats.

The science team on this voyage includes 32 participants from 7 institutions, including 3 Australian museums and 2 international research institutes.

Voyage track of RV Investigator for IOT biodiversity survey voyage: red - 2022 survey; black - 2021 survey.

COVID-19 Protocols

To safeguard the health and well-being of participants, strict COVID-19 protocols apply to all activities on this voyage. This includes a 7-day quarantine on shore and 3-phase PCR testing of all participants for COVID-19 prior to boarding the vessel.

Voyage outcomes

Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories (IOT) are poorly studied and differ from all other Australian maritime environments in that they are remote localities in the western Indian Ocean. This voyage, along with the associated voyage IN2021_V04 delivered in 2021, have now substantially increased our understanding of the composition and distribution of seafloor fauna in the new Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Island Marine Parks, which were announced by the Australian Government in 2021.

As a result of this and the previous voyage, significant areas of seafloor have been mapped in the region and more than 100 biodiversity surveys have provided a greater understanding of marine life in the region. Prior to these voyages, and except for inshore waters around the islands, very little was known about marine life in this region. The new understanding from this voyage will be vital for marine park manager, Parks Australia, who are responsible for development and delivery of management plans for the region.

During this voyage, researchers collected and provisionally identified 3690 lots (species/sample) of marine invertebrates and 724 lots (species/sample) of fish. Several new species of fish have already been identified, including a blind cusk eel and an undescribed green eye fish. Undoubtedly, numerous new invertebrate species will be described by taxonomists from these remote and under-sampled seamounts.

Voyage media

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