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Capability Statement

Extracting a coral core at Rowley Shoals, Western Australia. Photo: E Matson, AIMS.
More than 70 per cent of Australia's territory is under water and much of this country's wealth and identity is bound up with its coastline and surrounding oceans. Australia has the potential to be an oceanic and environmental superpower, but its marine territory is yet to be fully explored and understood. 
This is a time of unprecedented focus on the marine estate for energy, tourism, food, security and climate forecasting, and on emerging challenges such as climate change and ocean acidification.
The Institute provides internationally recognised expertise in:
  • Understanding tropical marine ecosystems and processes;
  • Understanding the responses of tropical marine systems to global changes; and
  • Supporting the sustainable development of tropical marine based industries.
The AIMS research fleet provides access to all of Australia's tropical marine environments. Two large purpose-built ships, the RV Cape Ferguson and the RV Solander, and a number of smaller vessels, take researchers to the diverse habitats that make up our tropical marine environments.
The National Sea Simulator (SeaSim) located at the AIMS Townsville headquarters, provides capabilities to precisely replicate ocean conditions in controlled laboratory settings, facilitating investigations into the cumulative pressures of climate change, ocean acidification, changing water quality on tropical marine environments. 
Research capabilities


The Institute's expertise in tropical marine ecosystems, combined with a multidisciplinary capability, makes possible the full spectrum of scientific investigation from the seafloor to the lab bench. 

  • Assessing and mapping biodiversity of shallow and deeper water communities.
  • Fish biodiversity surveys and demographic studies for assessing fisheries impacts, management strategies and effects of climate change.
  • Monitoring responses and resilience of coral reefs, mangroves and estuarine systems to climate change and other pressures. This effort includes identifying signals of stress using molecular tools.
  • Monitoring changes and investigating processes influencing marine ecosystem health and productivity. This enables  scientists to gauge and develop ways to reduce human impacts such as sediments, pollutants and excess nutrients on coastal ecosystems.
  • Microbial community analysis to determine the effects and responses of wild and cultured marine organisms to pathogenic attack.
  • Processing and analysing satellite data to provide information about shelf oceanography, current regimes, flood plumes and ecosystem productivity.
  • Reconstructing climate histories from coral cores to track climate change and improve climate prediction. 
  • Assessing water quality and issues related to runoff from the land.
  • Measuring, analysing and modelling oceanographic processes, including water circulation, wave mechanics and sediment dynamics in estuarine, coastal and continental shelf waters.
  • Investigating biogeochemical processes and analysing marine sediments in intertidal, sub-tidal and offshore systems. 
  • Screening and analysing compounds from marine samples with potential for use in human health care as well as industrial and environmental applications.
  • Developing aquaculture techniques for the production of food and commodities (e.g. bath sponges).
  • Developing environmentally sustainable aquaculture production.


  • Engineering workshops for the development of instrumentation required for research activities
  • Modern chemistry, biology, microbiology, oceanography and remote sensing laboratories
  • Analytical facilities including a sophisticated biomolecular analysis facility
  • Ocean observing systems and infrastracture along the GBR and at Scott Reef and Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia
  • AIMS Data Centre, providing online interactive visualisation and access to high value research data
  • National Sea Simulator
  • Microbiological and genetic research facility
  • Bioresource library
  • X-band satellite receiver
  • Coral core archive

More about AIMS facilities