Marine scientists working with the National Environmental Science Program are discovering new signs of life on the ocean floor, from remote coral reefs 550km off the coast of Port Macquarie to coral formations at the foot of underwater mountains off the coast of Tasmania.
The discoveries are outlined in the National Environmental Science Program Outcomes (NESP) 2020 report which details the world-leading environmental research funded by the Morrison Government to develop practical environmental initiatives guided by the latest science.
The Marine Biodiversity Hub is nearing the completion a two-year marine mapping survey using state-of-the-art camera equipment and new mapping techniques to chart coral shelves 2000 metres below sea-level off the coast of Tasmania to better understand marine shelf habitats in Australian Marine Parks.
In a similar study, mapping of remote atoll-like structures near the Lord Howe seamount chain off the Coast of Port Macquarie revealed complex seabed features, including underwater mountain ridges colonised by hard corals and rare protected species Galapagos Sharks and Black Cod.
It is a reminder on World Ocean Day of the importance of marine conservation and protection. This knowledge will now be used to assist scientists and park managers decide where to focus future research, monitoring and protection of deep-sea biodiversity.
The NESP report covers six scientific hubs, including research from the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub; Marine Biodiversity Hub; Threatened Species Recovery Hub; Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub; Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub and Tropical Water Quality Hub.
A unique evidence-based science program, NESP covers the entire continent – from the mangroves in the north to the handfish in the south – from sea grasses in the west to the Crown-of-thorns starfish in the Great Barrier Reef. Many of the programs operate in partnership with leading universities, scientists, industry and traditional owners.
The Morrison Government recently committed $149 million for Phase 2 of NESP to continue research into programs to protect threatened species, research into climate and environmental science, waste reduction, tropical water quality, marine research and clean air in urban areas. Applications for Phase 2 of the NESP close on 30 June 2020.
You can view the NESP 2020 Outcomes report here: https://www.environment.gov.au/science/nesp/publications/nesp-outcomes