UWA Oceans Institute 

ISSUE 12. 
February 2017
                                                                                In this issue:
                                                                      Latest News 
                                                                 Member Articles
Member Profile
Member Achievements
Upcoming Events
Partnerships in Action
Oceans Outreach
                                                         Video Highlight

Oceans Online delivers a monthly source of the latest marine research news from 
The UWA Oceans Institute.  

The UWA Oceans Institute is advancing multidisciplinary research knowledge to support the delivery of ocean solutions by addressing grand challenges.

 Latest News from the Oceans Institute 

Consul General Rachel Cooke attending the opening of the International Indian Ocean Science Conference at IOMRC, Crawley. 
It's been a busy start to 2017! The UWA Oceans Institute, along with the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Perth Programme Office (IOC PPO) recently co-hosted the International Indian Ocean Science Conference. Over 80 leading international scientists in marine and climate research attended the conference held at the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, Crawley. Presentations included the Indian Ocean's complex oceanography, bio-geochemistry, extreme weather events and the latest scientific equipment (underwater, sea-surface and airborne) used to study the Indian Ocean. The conference also devoted special sessions to the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2), a global collaborative 5 year program. The IOC PPO has a major role running the IIOE-2, in conjucntion with its IIOE-2 Joint Project Office partner in India. 

Federal Senators Louise Pratt and Linda Reynolds along with Federal Member for Parliament Nola Marino toured the new IOMRC facilities in early February. 
The Senators and Minister saw first hand some of the exciting interdisciplinary research taking place within the building and how the collaboration between IOMRC research partners, The Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO, Department of Fisheries Western Australia and The UWA Oceans Institute is excelling.  

 Member Articles

Notes from the Field
Myanmar: promoting socially sustainable uses of coastal resources 

Dr Julian Clifton, UWA School of Agriculture and Environment and The UWA Oceans Institute 

Myanmar is frequently referred to as the ‘final frontier’ in South-east Asia. After suffering decades of international isolation and domestic repression whilst under military rule from 1962 to 2011, the country has experienced momentous political and economic change in the last few years.

One consequence of the decades of political and economic isolation is that the country’s natural resources had remained largely unexploited. The recent moves towards democracy and subsequent relaxation of international economic sanctions, including tourism, means that Myanmar represents a major opportunity for international investment and economic development

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Latest Research

The Ecology of Human Mobility 

Mark G Meekan (AIMS), Dr Michelle Thums (AIMS), Ana M.M Sequeira, ARC DECRA- UWA Research Fellow (et al).

Mobile phones and other geolocated devices have produced unprecedented volumes of data on human movement. Analysis of pooled individual human trajectories using big data approaches has revealed a wealth of emergent features that have ecological parallels in animals across a diverse array of phenomena including commuting, epidemics, the spread of innovations and culture and collective behaviour.

Movement ecology, which explores how animals cope with and optimize variability in resources, has the potential to provide a theoretical framework to aid an understanding of human mobility and its impacts on ecosystems. In turn, big data on human movement can be explored in the context of animal movement ecology to provide solutions for urgent conservation problems and management challenge

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 OI Member Profile

Andrew Pomeroy

Dr Andrew Pomeroy is a Lecturer and Post-Doctoral researcher at the UWA Oceans Institute. He is also a member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. 

Andrew’s research explores how waves and currents evolve, suspend and transport sediment, shape coastlines and affect coastal infrastructure. He also has interests in the management of the coastal zone as well as how to optimise engineering design for the range of forces and durability issues unique to the marine environment.

Importance of Your Research

My research contributes to an improved understanding of sediment transport in coral reef environments, the impact of benthic canopies on waves and currents close to the bed, how the physical environment affects the health of seagrass meadows and how shorelines change. Ultimately, the aim of my research is to develop quantitative methods to distinguish how naturally occurring physical processes differ when the environment is affected by human or natural disturbances. Such quantitative descriptions are important because they provide an environmental context to ecosystems, measures of environmental changes and predictions of the impact of interventions in the marine environment. In the future, I hope to extend this research to also investigate the impact of infrastructure such as aquaculture and seabed pipeline systems, which may enable this infrastructure to be optimized and its impact on the coastal environment to be minimized. 

Importance of Collaboration and Communication
As Chair of the Coastal, Ocean and Port Engineering Panel for Engineers Australia WA as well as a member of the National Committee for Coastal and Ocean Engineering, I am acutely aware of the importance of collaboration and communication. I have found that collaborative projects between disciplines as well as between different sectors contribute new insights and change the way problems are perceived. Combining these effects with good communication tends to get the traction that is required to affect change. These benefits not only have impact but also provide tangible evidence to the community that research is relevant and worth supporting.
In my experience, collaboration with other research groups (e.g., the UWA Plant Biology group) enabled expertise to be combined to provide a more integrated understanding of a problem – such as how the physical environment affects the function of seagrass. Similarly, working with Carnegie Wave Energy to identify opportunities for wave energy development has been particularly rewarding and has drawn on physical process knowledge at UWA as well as specialised wave energy knowledge available at Carnegie. In our region, I have been working with others to increase the institute’s engagement with countries around the Indian Ocean rim (e.g., Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar, South Africa and Seychelles). I’ve found the challenges faced by researchers, government officials and industry professionals in these countries particularly interesting, not because they are unique but because they are often similar to the challenges here in Western Australia and Australia more broadly – just at a different scale. I have found discussing their perspective on these issues insightful and the opportunity to support these highly skilled researchers and management professionals by providing a perspective on what we have done in Australia, what has worked and perhaps more importantly what hasn’t worked, particularly rewarding. 

Most Memorable Experience in the Field

The most memorable field experience was a research cruise from Broome to Exmouth on the Solander. This was memorable because I had the opportunity to not only undertake our oceanographic research program in a spectacular location but to also assist others in their research objectives. It was probably the first time that I had an opportunity to spend a long period working with, as well as supporting, our plant and fish biologists in the field. It would be fair to say that I learnt a lot about seagrass and fish during that trip, the snorkelling was also spectacular!

 Member Achievements

The UWA Oceans Institute would like to congratulate Dr Andrew Pomeroy on his postdoctoral Fulbright Award. Dr Pomeroy is a Coastal Oceanographer and Engineer and a Postdoctoral Researcher in coral reef studies at the UWA Oceans Institute. For his Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship, Dr Pomeroy will work with researchers at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Centre of the US Geographical Survey in Santa Cruz to understand the dynamics of sediment transport in coral reefs. 

PhD Candidate Harriet Davies from UWA's Marine Ecology Group has been awarded a Wentworth Group Science Scholarship to participate in the Wentworth Group Science Masterclass this March. The scholarship enables PhD students, scientists, lawyers and economists to engage in a science leadership program in Sydney which focuses on bridging the gap between science and public policy. Ms Davies research centres on marine spatial planning approaches within Indigenous Protected Areas in the Northern Territory. 

Congratulations also to Dr Juan He on her recent UWA Research Impact Grant, "Trade in fishery resources: regulation for economic resilience and environmental sustainability in the Asia Pacific region". Dr He joined the UWA Law School in 2016 and the Oceans Institute in 2017. She previously worked at Zhejiang University, a key partner of the UWA Oceans Institute. 


 Upcoming Events 

- Professor Erika Techera, Director of the UWA Oceans Institute: Moving Beyond: "The unnatural history of the sea".
Wednesday 01 March, John Curtin Gallery, Building 200A, Curtin University, Bentley Campus University, 12:30pm-1:30pm.  
RSVP: Tuesday February 28th on 08 9266 4155 or email

- Professor Chari Pattiaratchi- School of Civil Environmental and Mining Engineering & The UWA Oceans Institute: "Coastal current systems in Western Australia: impact from a decade of IMOS". Friday 17th March, 3:45pm, IOMRC Auditorium, Ground Floor followed by light refreshments in the lobby.
Cnr Fairway & Service Road 4, Crawley. 

- A.C Grayling: "The Age of Genius- The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind".
Monday. 03 April, Banquet Hall at The University Club of Western Australia, 7am-9am. Tickets available from UWA Club Reception 08 6488 8770. 
Price $52 (includes a two - course, sit-down breakfast).

- In Conversation with Quarterly Essayist, David Marr: "On Politics and Prejudice". 
Wednesday 12 April, University Club of Western Australia, 6:15-7:30 pm. 
Enquiries:  Boffins Books 9321 5755 or 
Bookings through

 Partnerships in Action 

Research Snapshot: Post Disaster Recovery Processes in Fiji 
As part of a UWA Research Collaboration Award (RCA), a group of UWA researchers visited Ba Province in Fiji late last year, travelling to communities historically affected by flooding. The research team included Oceans Institute Members and UWA School of Agriculture and Environment (SAgE) researchers Dr Natasha Pauli and Dr Bryan Boruff, Dr John Duncan of SAgE, and Ms Gracie Irvine, an Honours exchange student from University College London. Other members of the field team included researchers from the University of the South Pacific, University of Auckland, and University of Sydney.
The fieldtrip was part of a larger, three-year (2015-2018) project on climate change adaptation in post-disaster recovery processes, led by Professor Andreas Neef, from the School of Social Sciences, University of Auckland and funded by the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research ( By adopting an integrated and participatory action-research approach, the project aims to explore how rural communities living in flood-prone river basins in Cambodia and Fiji are responding to increasing incidents of floods under the influence of climate change and other risk factors, such as environmental degradation.

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 Oceans Outreach 

PhD Researcher casting out for recreational fishers views 

Oceans Institute PhD student, Asha McNeill, is conducting marine research of a different kind and reaching out to West Australian recreational fishers for help. Ms McNeill, who completed her undergraduate degree at UWA in Marine Biology in 2006, has shifted her study focus from marine ecosystems to the human aspects of our oceans – understanding the communities who rely upon them for food, business or leisure.

Ms McNeill’s research is focused around the mid-west coastal region of Western Australia, where she has been investigating the social impact of the establishment of the Jurien Bay Marine Park on local communities. 
The small fishing towns of Green Head, Jurien Bay and Cervantes were at the centre of her research and her initial questioning led her to focus on the most significant development in the region, the changing Western Rock Lobster fishery management as a result of stock concerns in the 2000’s.

Read more:

 Video Highlight

Australia Day underwater speakers a success for RiverLab team 
Researchers from UWA’s FutureLab RiverLab team combined science with entertainment on Australia Day in an attempt to explore links between neuroscience and biology.
The team set up a series of underwater speakers at Matilda Bay to allow revellers the chance to listen to music while swimming in the Swan River during Australia Day celebrations. 

Underwater tunes for Australia Day 
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