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17 April: Kimberley exploration - Scientific voyage to the deep sea

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17 April 2015

Scientists have returned from a month-long expedition from April to May at Scott Reef and the submerged shoals near the Kimberley coast on board the Australian Institute of Marine Science vessel, Solander and the US-based Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel, Falkor. The research brings together scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), the University of Western Australia, Stanford University and Griffith University.


Dr Andrew Heyward, chief AIMS scientist on board Falkor, has made initial observations of some of the deeper water areas in previous years and he is excited to revisit them with the advanced mapping and imaging equipment the Falkor brings to the project.


“Using fixed moorings and a full suite of oceanographic sensors from the ship, we will map the ocean circulation and seabed environment in fine detail, measure the structure and productivity of the overlying water column and see how this information links to patterns of habitats observed on the seabed,” said Dr Heyward.


The scientists are particularly interested in looking into the long term changes in the little understood deeper reefs from a variety of environmental factors and they will explore the connections between ocean circulation, habitat patterns and benthic biodiversity on two deep-reef ecosystems in the region along with observing a coral spawning event during the cruise.


The seafloor and bottom coral communities will be mapped using the Falkor’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). In addition to the live video feed, the ROV carries multiple cameras recording both forward and downward views, with the location of every image precisely known. This allows the scientists to create detailed maps of the major habitats, like those dominated by deeper water corals and understand the link to the ocean circulation.


The cruise coincides with a possible April coral spawning.


Cruise summary of Falkor:


Daily blogs are listed here (under the cruise log)


And all the ROV dives are listed here, with links to the YouTube channel


Contact: Georgina Kenyon, AIMS Communication,, 07 4753 4265