ARMS to hold sea creatures

An Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure (ARMS), deployed at Heron Island.
Image: Julian Caley


Tuesday 9 September 2008
WHEN the CReefs team returns to Heron Island in a year's time they will return to more than just a beautiful island.
The team's divers are leaving behind Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS), which will be pegged to the ocean floor in nine spots around the reef.
Dr Julian Caley, AIMS Principal Research Scientist and Principal Investigator of the CReefs project, said creatures would colonise the ARMS and make their home there.
In a year's time the CReefs divers will collect the ARMS and examine their contents.
Each structure has its location and depth recorded with a GPS, so the divers will know where to find it.
Julian said the team was developing a standardised way of measuring the health, diversity and biological makeup of coral reefs.
"We're aiming at getting a standardised method that is replicable around the globe," he said.
Julian said the idea of dropping structures in the water to study the animals that recruit to and live on them has been around for some time, but this was the first time an attempt has been made to develop and apply the same method on a worldwide scale.
The ARMS have several layers, some open, others with small caves, and another with a "pond filter", with tiny holes in it.
Julian said the ARMS might be left down for longer than a year, with research now going on about the effect of leaving the structures in the water for up to three years.
These structures are already being deployed around the world as part of the international CReefs project.