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AIMS celebrates achievements of successful Earthwatch partnership

AIMS celebrates achievements of successful Earthwatch partnership


As a five year partnership with Earthwatch Australia concludes, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is celebrating achievements. Since its inception in 2011, Earthwatch Australia has facilitated a valuable opportunity to bring AIMS scientists together with passionate volunteers from around the world to raise awareness of pressing tropical marine science issues and undertake real-world scientific approaches to understand coral reefs and their recovery from environmental impacts.

Over the course of nine field trips, almost 50 volunteers have joined forces with project leaders, Dr David Bourne and Dr Yui Sato, to support data collection assessing reef recovery and disease outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef. Volunteers originating from Australia and around the world including the UK, USA, Japan and New Zealand devote one week of their time to learn about marine science and implement field methodologies, ultimately expanding the capacity of AIMS’ research efforts. 

Launched from Orpheus Island Research Station, staff and volunteers have worked closely together both above and below water to better understand the recovery process of coral reefs following devastating natural disturbance and recurrent outbreaks of coral black band disease.

Key program outcomes include:

  • multiple scientific outputs – from research publications to conference presentations;
  • significant progress in our understanding of black band disease and post-cyclone reef recovery; and the
  • development of confident and knowledgeable environmental leaders.

The final field trip commenced on 1st of September 2016 at AIMS’ Townsville headquarters and also marks the last days for Yui who is moving to Germany to take up a postdoctoral position. An enthusiastic champion of the partnership activities, Yui’s departure is felt by all AIMS staff and volunteers that have participated in these unique expeditions.  

AIMS acknowledges the generous support provided by Mitsubishi Corporation.