Heron Island 2010
15 November 2010
Experts in marine science from around the world are visiting Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef for the final field expedition of the Australian Census of Coral Reefs (CReefs Australia) program.
This is the third expedition to Heron Island as part of the CReefs Australia project, but the researchers expect many new discoveries to still be made here.
The reefs around Heron Island, on the southern Great Barrier Reef, 530 kilometres north of Brisbane, are home to around 60 per cent of the 1500 species of fish and around 70 per cent of the coral species found in the Great Barrier Reef.
But scientists on the CReefs expedition are looking, not at fishes and corals, but at animals not previously studied in depth, including species of invertebrate marine animals: shrimps, worms, parasites and zoanthids.
The biodiversity of these creatures at this location has not been well documented previously during the CReefs project so this work will make an important contribution to our understanding of the marine life on coral reefs.
CReefs Australia research also contributes to the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year survey of the diversity, distribution and abundance of marine life in the oceans, conducted by 2,700 scientists from 80 nations.
Scientists from Australia, France, Japan, Poland and Russia are participating in the trip, which runs from 12 November to 2 December. It is the ninth and final field expedition as part of the four-year CReefs Australia project.
The CReefs Australia project has recently been recognised for its contribution to marine science by several of the premier science prize programs in Australia. It was shortlisted in the environmental research category in the 2010 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes; named as a finalist for the Department of Sustainability and Environment's Biodiversity Award as part of the United Nations Association of Australia's 2010 World Environment Day Awards.
The Australian node of the CReefs program is a partnership between BHP Billiton, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Census of Marine Life, and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.