The latest research highlights from the UWA Oceans Institute

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December 2022
Holiday edition 

Authored by: Josh Bonesso & Vivienne White


Director's Introduction


Dear Oceans Institute Community,

As we fast approach the festive season, I would like to acknowledge the hard work, dedication and achievements of our members. 

I would like to start by thanking Associate Professor Julian Partridge for his outstanding dedication and commitment to the OI throughout 2022. Julian has been instrumental in establishing and driving important research collaborations and initiatives across the OI and IOMRC since his commencement as Acting Director back in early 2020. 

It is also with sadness that we say goodbye to OI Business Manager Rob Pemberton, who will be embarking on an exciting new role with The Bureau (Bureau of Meteorology), commencing in Jan 2023. Rob has been a long-standing member of the OI staff team and has been pivotal to many successful OI collaborations across university, industry, stakeholders and philanthropic sectors. The OI extends its congratulations to Rob, and wish him every success on his new career path. 

We look forward to welcoming both Julian and Rob back as Adjuncts in the new year. 

Finally, I would like to wish all members of the OI community a happy and safe festive holiday and new year with family and friends. The Oceans Institute staff team and I look forward to 2023 and sharing another year of new developments across marine research with our members and wider oceans community. 

Stay safe and happy holidays. 


Dr Christophe Gaudin
Director, Oceans Institute


Oceans Highlights

Misadventures in Nature’s Paradise Book Launch

On November 2, the Oceans Institute and UWA Publishing hosted the launch of ‘Misadventures in Nature’s Paradise; Australia’s Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Islands during the Dutch era’ at the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre (IOMRC). 

Officially launched by Anthony Willinge, Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Western Australia, the event was well attended, with wide a interest from maritime archaeologists and enthusiasts, who were joined by members of the local Perth community.

Two of the books three authors, Graeme Henderson and Andrew Viduka, attended the launch and provided in-depth insight into the origins of the book, discussed the real-life ramifications of the Indian Ocean and European myths upon the destiny of the Cocos (Keeling) and Christmas Islands, and were on hand to answer questions from an eager crowd.

Graeme Henderson, Robert de Hoop and Andrew Viduka

Misadventures in Nature’s Paradise explores the earliest history of Australia’s Indian Ocean territories of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island.

Copies of the book can be purchased from UWA Publishing through the link below. 

Pivotal Launch of new Minderoo-UWA OceanOmics Centre at the University of Western Australia

After much anticipation, the Minderoo Foundation OceanOmics Centre was officially opened on November 24 at the University of Western Australia. 

Located in the Bayliss Building at UWA, the state-of-the-art centre forges the latest advances in DNA sequencing technology and analysis of environmental DNA or ‘eDNA’. This eDNA, the floating fragments of genetic material found in seawater and other environmental samples, will eclipse the speed and scale of conventional methods for monitoring life in the world's oceans. 

The Centre was officially launched by UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma and Founder of the Minderoo Foundation Dr Andrew Forrest AO, who together, unveiled the plaque at the new Centre, which will be game changer for marine genomics. 

OceanOmics Director Steve Burnell presented the keynote address, outlining what the Centre's strategic objectives for the coming years and the potential of marine genomics in ocean biodiversity and population health monitoring.

To learn more about the Centre visit the new OceanOmics webpage
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma and Dr Andrew Forrest unveiling the plaque at the Minderoo OceanOmics Centre at UWA (Photo credit: Minderoo Foundation). 
Seeds for Snapper Community Day in Cockburn Sound

On December 3, volunteers for the 'Seeds for Snapper' initiative joined researchers from the University of Western Australia to help in the dispersal seagrass seeds over Cockburn Sounds new wave attenuation reef. 

The event was a joint collaboration through MMA Offshore (formerly SubCon), OzFish, City of Cockburn and UWA. Enthusiastic volunteers on kayak, snorkel and scuba hit the water to spread critically important seagrass seeds (of species Posidonia australis) over the reef constructed by MMA Offshore. UWA School of Biological Sciences Professor Gary Kendrick, and Research Officer Rachel Austin were on hand at the site in Cockburn Sound, assisting volunteers with achieving an ambitious goal to disperse over 1 million seeds. 

Onshore, Dr Renan Silva joined other project and community partners at the Oceans Institute stall, sharing some of the research undertaken in the UWA wave flume to help design the reef, as well as the ongoing monitoring. 

"This event was a great opportunity to highlight UWA research that combines experimental, numerical, and field components and will ultimately improve the design guidelines of nature-based artificial reefs." said Dr Silva. 

Those too young to join volunteers on the water enjoyed the family seagrass and beachcombing session run by local marine scientists, providing the chance to get their hands (and feet) a little sandy in the pursuit of restoration science. 

The OI extends its thanks to OI members Justin Geldard and Mike Cuttler for their involvement with the community event. 
Seagrass seeds ready for distribution (Photo credit: Seeds for Snapper WA Volunteers). 
WA-IMOS Node Meeting 2022
On November 24 the node-wide meeting for WA-IMOS (Integrated Marine Observing System) was held at the University of Western Australia, providing an update on on-going  IMOS projects across Western Australia. 

IMOS Director Michelle Heupel introduced the session, providing a comprehensive update on emerging priorities and current NCRIS funding. 

The meeting included three presentations with a WA focus and identifying further opportunities. Dr Julie Robidart shared updates on eDNA and the role of OceanOmics. UWA Professor Ryan Lowe discussed opportunities to expand IMOS into the coastal zones and the demand for high throughput coastal observations. Ocean Graduate School Associate Professor Nicole Jones concluded the session with a presentation and discussion on the collaboration of observations on Sea Country. 

The IMOS Annual Highlights Document 2021-22 is available now

The document showcases the impact IMOS research infrastructure and data provides across the country.

The IMOS Annual Highlight Document 2021-22 outlines some of our significant achievements during the past year, including showcasing IMOS’ strengths. 

Farewell to OI Business Manager Rob Pemberton 

In early December, the OI's Robert Pemberton accepted a position with The Bureau (Bureau of Meteorology). 

Rob commenced with the Oceans Institute as Business Manager back in 2019, and has since been instrumental in shaping the OI's vision and strategic outcomes over the past 4 years. 

The OI staff team, affiliates and members would like to extend their congratulations to Rob for his enthusiasm and dedication to the Oceans Institute and wish him success in his new appointment with The Bureau and look forward to welcoming him back at future OI events as a valued Adjunct member.


“It has been a pleasure to work alongside diverse and enthusiastic people from across the marine sector and help to facilitate strategic outcomes across research in the institute.”

- Rob Pemberton (Oceans Institute)

OI Members represent WA coral reef research at Australian Coral Reef Society Centenary Conference 

About the event: 

Between the 25 - 28 of November, OI Researchers and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students represented the OI and Western Australian Coral Reef Research at the Australian Coral Reef Society (ACRS) conference in Brisbane, Queensland. 

Hosted at the University of Queensland (UQ), Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Queensland Museum, the conference convened coral reef researchers from across the country, celebrating 100 years of Australian coral reef science and the remarkable achievements in the field. 

The highly anticipated 100 year anniversary of the ACRS was opened at the Queensland Museum by AIMS Indigenous Partnerships Coordinator Mr Bob Muir, Queensland Deputy Premiere Hon Dr Steven Miles, Mr Peter Denham of the Queensland Museum, ACRS President Dr Sariah Hamylton and Dr Tom Spencer from the University of Cambridge. 

This year the ACRS in collaboration with the Queensland Museum put together an exhibition called ‘Making Waves, 100 years of Australian reef science’. The exhibition is still on display at the Queensland Museum, and is a must see if you are planning a trip to the Sunshine State!

This was followed by two days of high-impact talks across a breadth of coral reef science. Featured WA presenters from the OI included:

  1. Dr Kate Quigley (Minderoo Foundation, OI member): Keynote, Where to next? How connectivity may shape ecosystem persistence into the future.
  2. Dr Nicola Browne (Curtin University, OI member): Developing a dynamic model to predict the influence of acute disturbance events on reef carbonate production. 
  3. Defne Sahin (Australian Institute of Marine Science, OI member): Geographic patterns in the functional structure and diversity of coral assemblages across a tropical-temperate transition zone. 
  4. Dr Claire Ross (DBCA, OI Member): High-latitude coral communities in West Australian marine parks. 
  5. Josh Bonesso (OI member, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies): Assessing sensitivity and resilience of reef-island seascapes of NW Australia: a geo-ecological approach. 
  6. Tahlia Bassett (Curtin University, OI member): Measuring coral growth across a turbidity gradient in the Dampier Archipelago using underwater photogrammetry. 
Congratulations to the OI's Josh Bonesso (Oceans Institute, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, School of Earth Sciences) for being awarded an ACRS Student Grant to access the Minderoo Exmouth Research Lab in 2023. This award will allow continued work on the resilience of coral cay islands of NW Western Australia. The grant was awarded for the presentation: Assessing the sensitivity and resilience of coral reef island seascapes in NW Australia: a geo-ecological approach in the session 'Reef Seascapes: Patterns and Processes.' 
Australian Coral Reef Society Conference Presenters: Defne Sahin (Top Left), Josh Bonesso (Bottom Left) and Claire Ross (Bottom Right) representing OI at the Australian Coral Reef Society Centenary Conference. 
OI members present at the International Conference on Coastal Engineering (ICCE) in Sydney

About the event:

The 37th International Conference on Coastal Engineering (ICCE) was held in Sydney between the 4 - 9 of December. The ICCE is the premier coastal engineering conference held biennially in partnership with Coasts, Oceans, Ports & Rivers Institute (COPRI). This year’s theme was ‘The Present State of the Art and Science of Coastal Engineering’.
OI Professor Chari Pattiaratchi chaired the technical session on Tsunami on the opening day of the Conference, and a number of OI members also presented their research, including:
  1. Nery Contti Neto (OI member, Oceans Graduate School): Classic approach on wave dissipation by seagrass meadows may overpredict coastal protection. 
  2. Professor Chari Pattiaratchi (OI member, Oceans Graduate School): Meteorological tsunamis from atmospheric effects and volcanic eruptions – a hazard for coastal regions and ports.
  3. Justin Geldard (OI member, Oceans Graduate School): Effectiveness of coral reef restoration in wave attenuation applications. 
  4. Associate Professor Jeff Hansen (OI member, School of Earth Sciences): Displacement based comparison of accelerometer and low-cost GNSS wave buoys. 
  5. Carly Portch (OI member, Oceans Graduate School): How beach state influences wave runup on a perched beach in southwestern Australia. 
  6. Thalles Araujo (OI member, School of Earth Sciences): 3D velocity fields with 2DH numerical stability: A 3D analytical-numerical module for 2DH numerical models. 
  7. Professor Ryan Lowe (OI member, Oceans Graduate School, School of Earth Sciences): Nonhydrostatic and mesh-free computational fluid dynamics model comparisons of surf zone hydrodynamics by plunging irregular waves. 
  8. Dr Renan Silva (OI member, School of Earth Sciences): The influence of submerged coastal structures on nearshore hydrodynamics. 
  9. Dr Daniel Raj David (OI member, Oceans Graduate School, UNSW): Multi-objective optimisation and coastal impact assessments of wave farms. 
  10. Dr Ben Williams (OI member, Oceans Graduate School): Nowcasting infragravity wave height within a harbour using an artificial neural network.
Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi coordinating the IMOS stall at the 2022 ICCE Conference in Sydney (Photo credit: Charitha Pattiaratchi). 
WAMSI launch the Blueprint for Marine Science Refresh 2022 - 2027

A new report to guide Western Australia’s coastal research priorities and initiatives signals a renewed focus for statewide marine science.

The Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) today launched the Blueprint Refresh 2022-2027, identifying opportunities for marine science to improve the sustainable use and management of WA’s coastal and estuarine marine environments.

Developed with advice from WA marine stakeholders, the Blueprint Refresh 2022-2027 provides the contemporary view, developed with advice from key Western Australian stakeholders to refresh the scientific knowledge required to head into the future. The result is a snapshot of the existing and emerging marine science needs of WA’s marine industries, managers, regulators and the wider community, shaped by changes and advances over the last five years to the marine landscape.

It represents six major marine science themes and identifies key knowledge gaps to guide future research initiatives and programs over the next five years that can be pursued by the State’s leading scientific experts and organisations.

The Blueprint  Refresh 2022- 2027

To access a copy and find out more about the Blueprint Refresh please click here

Featured Articles

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