Celebrating 50 years: a message from our CEO

11 May 2022
Gentleman in a suit smiles for the camera

From our beginnings in 1972 as a marine research agency focused solely on the Great Barrier Reef, with two small boats and a handful of aquarium tanks, AIMS has come a long way. Today, our geographic reach stretches from the southern Great Barrier Reef through to Ningaloo in Australia’s west, all traversed with the help of two purpose built research vessels. Our science is broad and multidisciplinary, and our research is supported by the National Sea Simulator - the most sophisticated research aquarium facility in the world.

Australia’s tropical marine estate is changing. The mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef in early 2022 is a stark reminder of the speed of these changes - this is the fourth mass coral bleaching event since 2016, and the first recorded in a cooler La Niña year. Australia's north west also suffered heat wave conditions. These changes in our oceans are occurring rapidly and so must we, to ensure the best science is available to help ocean health and coral reefs survive climate change.

What hasn’t changed is the dedication and hard work of AIMS people. For over 50 years we have delivered science for a marine nation with integrity and impartiality. Our dedicated science teams continue the exploration that was our focus through the 1970’s and 80’s, with a stronger emphasis today on delivering solutions to the big marine challenges facing our nation and the world.

In 2022, we have much to be proud of. We have initiated a comprehensive Indigenous Partnership Program which is now being emulated by organisations across Australia. We are developing the first marine autonomous system test range in the Southern Hemisphere. We lead cutting-edge reef adaptation and restoration research to help protect coral reefs from climate change, and we will soon double the size of SeaSim, significantly increasing our positive impact for the nation. And recently, the Australian Government committed an additional $63.6 million in funding for AIMS, allowing us to continue providing the research knowledge to support growth in the sustainable use of our tropical marine estate, and foster the environmental protection and management of its unique ecosystems.

 Dr Paul Hardisty

 AIMS CEO