The Great Barrier Reef Seabed Biodiversity Project allowed AIMS to take a snapshot of the seabed flora and fauna, providing a baseline against which to monitor future changes in abundance, diversity and ecological function.
It also helped AIMS to discover new species, support the management of marine parks and confirm industry sustainability.
In 2013 the results of our surveys provided a baseline for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s ecological risk assessment of the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery in the Marine Park.
The survey data were used to model the biomass of more than 900 species throughout the park and these maps were used to estimate exposure of each species to the risk of being trawled.
The project also helped to redraw the boundaries of park bioregional maps and confirm that the 2004 re-zoning of the park meets or exceeds its goal to protect habitats and marine biodiversity.
Prior to these surveys, there had been little investigation of the Reef’s seafloor habitats, which were poorly understood.
The project was a collaboration between AIMS, CSIRO, the Queensland Department of Fisheries, and the Queensland Museum, which mapped sea floor habitats and their associated marine life across the length and breadth of the marine park.
As part of our research, AIMS’s flagship vessel RV Lady Basten supported a team of scientists to make observations at approximately 1500 locations during six lengthy voyages.