Waypoint Autumn 2015

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Photo Story: Science and industry study reef resilience

AIMS and Woodside Energy Ltd study reef resilience at a remote oceanic atoll, Scott Reef, in north west Australia.

Image: humpback whale

Copyright: Wayne and Pam Osborn.

Scott Reef is a remote oceanic atoll near the edge of north-western Australia's continental shelf. Studies by AIMS and Woodside Energy Ltd have improved global understanding of coral reefs and the causes of their degradation.

Image: AIMS

The results of these studies are now being evaluated to understand better how coral reefs globally are responding to climate change. Over the coming decade Woodside Energy Ltd and AIMS will continue collaborative research in this region, continuing the collaboration between AIMS and Woodside Energy Ltd which is now in its 21st year.

Image: Eric Matson, copyright: AIMS

New research has shown that the excellent water quality and health of coral and fish communities at Scott Reef facilitated their recovery after climatic disturbances such as coral bleaching due to extreme sea water temperatures. New species, previously unknown to science, are also being discovered. The cumulative data from these studies also helps AIMS with Woodside Energy Ltd to reassess how reefs are monitored.

 Image: AIMS

The reef is also an important feeding ground for migratory species such as whales. Every year, thousands of whales (of various species, including pygmy, humpback, false killer, dwarf minke and Brydes's) undertake migrations across the coast of Western Australia, from the food-rich Southern Ocean to their breeding grounds in the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean.

Image: humpback whale

Copyright: Wayne and Pam Osborn