First-Ever ‘Whole Ecosystem Study’ of WA’s Pilbara Region

Written by on February 25, 2014 in Coral Reefs, Marine Life
Christmas tree worms on a Porites coral head, off Montobello Island.

Christmas tree worms on a Porites coral head, off Montobello Island. Photo courtesy of CSIRO.

A five-year, A$12 million project will survey a 300km (186 mile) stretch of coastline in the Pilbara region of Western Australia that covers two major marine parks in addition to areas under development for ports, and oil and gas extraction.

The Pilbara Marine Conservation Partnership, a joint venture between CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation)’s Wealth from Oceans Flagship and the University of Western Australia, will be the first “whole ecosystem study” of the region’s marine environment and will provide a baseline of marine conditions for future research and policy-making decisions.

“Over the next five years we want to find out everything we can about the health and makeup of the region, as well as observe and evaluate any localised changes, so we can give the best possible advice to future use managers on how they can act sustainably,” CSIRO lead scientist Dr Russ Babcock explained in a news release.

While the researchers were scouting for survey sites, they saw coral reefs ranging from vibrant and healthy, to bleached and dying.

“By studying these sorts of variations and finding out why they occur, we can improve our overall understanding of the marine environment in the region, and how we can best preserve it,” Dr Babcock said.

The information that they collect will be used to help decision-makers find the right balance between conservation and development.

Coral bleaching on a Porites coral head, off Montobello Island.

Coral bleaching on a Porites coral head, off Montobello Island. Photo courtesy of CSIRO.

Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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