AIMS: Australia's tropical marine research agency.

Latest News

17 July: New study links dredging to diseased corals

In a world-first study published today, researchers say dredging activity near coral reefs can increase the frequency of diseases affecting corals. Read more

3 July: AIMS and partners win smart IT award for unifying scientific monitoring with images

The International Virtual Environment Centre (iVEC), AIMS and other partners won a prestigious Incite award from the WA Information Technology and Telecommunications Alliance (WAiTTA) in Perth recently. Read more

28 May: Ten years of satellite data shows land management key to protecting the Reef

Scientists have published research this week in the international journal, Marine Pollution Bulletin that reinforces the need for improved land management practices in order to prevent unnecessary sediment runoff that is affecting the health of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Read more

27 May: Abundance as important as rarity for biodiversity

The Australian Institute of Marine Science and a team of international researchers have published a study today in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that dismisses the ‘Neutral Theory of Biodiversity'. The study is important as it shows that the really abundant species of plants and animals often offer the most ecosystem services, such as providing habitats for fishes, or keeping reefs clear of seaweed. Read more

24 Apr: SCUBA divers are helping researchers to monitor sharks 

Recreational dive guides can help researchers to keep track of changes in shark populations, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Western Australia and the Australian Institute of Marine Science. The study compared counts of sharks reported by professional dive guides with automated counts generated by sharks tagged with acoustic tags at popular dive sites in Palau, Micronesia. Read more.

14 Apr: Ocean Acidification robs reef fish of their fear of predators

Research on the behaviour of coral reef fish at naturally-occurring carbon dioxide seeps in Milne Bay in eastern Papua New Guinea has shown that continuous exposure to increased levels of carbon dioxide dramatically alters the way fish respond to predators. Read more.

1 Apr: Corals don't lie: centuries of rising sea levels and temperature data revealed

AIMS scientists together with a team from The University of Western Australia, CSIRO and the University of San Diego have analysed coral cores from the eastern Indian Ocean to understand how the unique coral reefs of Western Australia are affected by changing ocean currents and water temperatures. The findings give new insights into how La Niña, a climate swing in the tropical Pacific, affects the Leeuwin current and how our oceans are changing. Read more.

17 Feb: AIMS partners with Shell and INPEX to help protect against oil spills

AIMS, Shell and INPEX announce a unique partnership to develop comprehensive environmental baselines to monitor the health of waters off North Western Australia. Read more.

20 Jan: ‘Hidden' and new species of coral identified by AIMS scientists

Scientists have discovered ‘hidden' coral species diversity by applying a combined approach of DNA analysis, skeleton examination and ecological observations. Read more.

4 Dec: Ocean acidification: a bleak future for pacific biodiversity - from corals to crabs 

New research shows the detrimental effects of increasing levels of carbon dioxide on the diversity of invertebrates that inhabit our coral reefs. It's a snapshot of the centuries to come for our coral reefs. Read more.

12 Nov: Drug potential from Great Barrier Reef sea sponges ready for commerical development

Expressions of interest are being invited to develop a class of chemical compounds produced by three species of Australian sea sponges, including one species from the Great Barrier Reef, for new drugs to treat conditions such as cancer and bone disease. Read more.

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Monitoring Cyclones and Flooding 

AIMS researchers continue to monitor and evaluate the effects of cyclones on coral reefs in Australia

Ocean acidification: The science of Papua New Guinea's carbon dioxide seeps 

AIMS researchers are currently studying the shallow volcanic CO2 seeps in eastern Papua New Guinea in Milne Bay Province to observe how ocean acidification is affecting the oceans. 
"These experiments and field trips are essential to study at first-hand what is occurring in nature when more and more CO2 from the atmosphere mixes with water," said AIMS research scientist, Dr Katharina Fabricius.
When CO2 from the atmosphere dissolves in water, it causes ocean acidification, slightly lowering the pH of the water and changing its carbonate chemistry. This in turn makes it harder for a range of marine animals to form their shells and skeletons. Read more.

Better water quality information for the Great Barrier Reef  

The Marine Quality Dashboard, a free-access online tool that gathers and visualises information on water quality on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is now available.  
The Dashboard delivers accessible, accurate historic and up-to-date information (such as sea surface temperatures, chlorophyll levels, sediments and light) useful for decision makers in managing impacts on the GBR from rainfall, flooding and coral bleaching events. Data from the Dashboard can be displayed in different formats or downloaded from the web for further analysis and interpretation.
Part of the eReefs project, the Dashboard was developed through collaboration between the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, Great Barrier Reef Foundation and the Queensland Government

Early warning system for coral reef bleaching 

As sea water temperatures along the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) reach their warmest during the summer months, this is the time of year when corals are most at risk from heat-induced bleaching. 

Through ocean observing technologies, AIMS keeps a close watch on coral reefs along the GBR, providing data fundamental to an ‘early warning system' for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to detect and respond to mass coral bleaching events. Read more.

Image of crown-of-thorns starfish in the National Sea Simulator

Crown-of-thorns starfish research

Crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) are major predator of corals.They exhibit population explosions and can be a major cause for coral loss on reefs, as has been documented on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

AIMS is engaged in research to understand the causes of COTS population explosions and to develop new methods to control outbreaks. Through its Long-Term Monitoring Program, the Institute also actively monitors changes in COTS populations along the GBR. The program makes an important contribution to the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report, the Australian Government's five-yearly assessment of the state of the GBR. Read more.

Coral spawning activities at AIMS

During this year's Great Barrier Reef (GBR) coral spawning event, international scientists joined AIMS researchers in the National Sea Simulator for a number of high profile projects to: extend the GBR coral cryo-repository, understand natural variation and the inheritance of temperature tolerance, attempt to enhance coral resilience and conduct experiments that examine the effects of dredging sediments, water quality and climate change on coral reproduction and their early life stagesRead more.