The latest research highlights from the UWA Oceans Institute

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February 2023

Authored by: Josh Bonesso and Vivienne White


Director's Introduction


Dear Oceans Institute Community,

I am pleased to bring you another edition of the Oceans Institute newsletter, acknowledging key achievements and events from our OI members.

Earlier this month, the anticipated 'Establishing and support a national marine baselines and monitoring program' report was approved and released by the National Marine Science Committee (NMSC), of which includes the contribution and expertise from the OI (Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi). The report aimed to develop a comprehensive assessment of our marine estate and to help manage Commonwealth and State marine reserves across Australia. More information on the report and its strategy can be found below. 

In mid February, the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre (IOMRC) hosted a successful inaugural seminar series and sundowner celebrating featured research from across the partnership, including three presenters from the OI. We congratulate the IOMRC team for establishing this monthly event that we hope fosters many rewarding collaborations across the partnership. 

As our members are aware, the OI Expedition Page is active and showcases exciting expeditions from across the Institute and its collaborators. This month we are proud to feature a cross-institutional expedition to the remote Pilbara Islands off the coast of WA's Pilbara region. More details on their journey and past expeditions can be found below. We invite our members to contact for a feature! 


Dr Christophe Gaudin
Director, Oceans Institute


Featured Stories
Sharing success stories from across the Oceans community

National Marine Science Committee release
'Establishing and supporting a national marine baselines and monitoring program’ 

During August 2015, The National Marine Science Plan 2015-2025 recommended a national approach to establish baselines and monitoring for the Australian marine environment.

Coordinated by the National Marine Science Committee (NMSC), the outcome was the working group report: 'Establishing and supporting a national marine baselines and monitoring program.'  Released earlier this month by Paul Hedge and colleagues, the report presents an audit of environmental, social and economic baseline data describing Australia's marine estate. The working group assigned this task by the NMSC captured 371 baseline and monitoring programs of national significance, and presented two options for how to establish a national approach to marine baselines and monitoring. 

OI Researcher in Physical Oceanography Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi contributed to the working group report which aimed to address the following key goals:

  • Provide scientifically robust evidence-based understanding on marine ecosystem health, including status and trends;
  • Evaluate environmental risks in the marine environment;
  • Assess the oceans' potential to provide recourses;
  • Evaluate the economic and social effectiveness of management;
  • Improve seasonal and long-term climate predictions;
  • Understand changes driven by natural variability in marine ecosystems; and
  • Determine the effectiveness of marine conservation efforts, measures for marine protected areas and unprotected areas. 
The summary and technical report is now available. Click below for access. 

Click here for access to the Summary and Technical Report Published by the National Marine Science Committee. 

"Used wisely, Australia’s ocean resources can generate increasing wealth, food and energy, and support sustainable living for generations."

New OI Featured Expedition
to the Pilbara Islands, Western Australia

Our latest Expedition celebrates a cross-institutional expedition to the remote Pilbara Archipelago, situated between the Exmouth Gulf and Dampier Archipelago World Heritage Nominated Region. 

The team of researchers spanning the Oceans Institute, Curtin University and former ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies have been uncovering the resilience of marginal coral reefs and their islands to environmental change through the aptly named 'Island Resilience Project,' funded on a ARC DECRA Fellowship awarded to Dr Nicola Browne (Curtin University). 

Understanding reef dynamics and the production of carbonate material that builds coastal landforms such as coral cay islands is critical in conserving their ecosystem services and viability as nesting/rookeries for sea/shorebird populations and vulnerable sea turtle species that use their beaches as nesting sites. 

Click below to explore the Pilbara Islands!

Principal Investigators:

  1. Dr Mick O'Leary (UWA Oceans Institute)
  2. Mr Josh Bonesso (UWA Oceans Institute)
  3. Dr Nicola Browne (Curtin University)
  4. Dr Michael Cuttler (OI, Oceans Graduate School)
  5. Dr Shannon Dee (BMT & Curtin University). 

Interested in sharing your expedition with us? 

The Oceans Institute 'Expeditions' is an interactive forum for OI researchers and collaborators to share their exciting research voyages and campaigns from across Western Australia and beyond. 

From the deepest depths of the Indian Ocean, to our shallow temperature and tropical coastlines, the aim is to deepen our collective understanding of the world's ocean, placing the Indian Ocean into context globally, by sharing these research endeavours with the oceans community.  

The OI is eager to share the expeditions of our researchers and collaborators. Please reach out to to request a feature on the OI Expeditions Page!

Eva Island and Reef are situated in the middle of the Exmouth Gulf, Pilbara, Western Australia (Photo credits: Victorien Paumard, Josh Bonesso and Shannon Dee). 

A New Review
On the importance of gender equity in Oceanography 

A review article published in the 'Annual Review of Marine Science,' addresses the importance and inclusion of gender equity within the oceanographic workforce, with an emphasis on how striving for equity will drive success of the oceanographic enterprise. 

The article describes the historical obstructions to gender equity within oceanography, and uses quantitative data on participation, achievement and recognition in the field to assess its progress over time and current status. 

Within the oceanographic discipline globally, approximately half of women receive PhDs, and this is equally resembled in earlier stages of academic employment. Yet there remains the need to push for further gender equality in the science, as reflected by the number of first-authored publications, grants, awards received by women researchers. 

The authors emphasise that the solution should be a collegial approach from within the oceanographic community, encouraging people to work together to provide a culture of equity so that all genders can thrive, whilst removing professional inequalities in the workplace.

To read the review in full follow the link below. 

Find out more and read the full article here: 

"We focus on gender equity rather than gender equality. Gender equity aims for fairness between genders, recognizing that some genders start from a place of disadvantage, with imbalances that must be addressed."

Inaugural IOMRC Seminar 2023
a resounding success 

On February 16, the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre (IOMRC) hosted the first in-house social seminar, bringing together researchers and students from across the IOMRC partnership. Keynote speakers included researchers from the UWA Oceans Institute, CSIRO, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). The seminar was then followed by a social gathering allowing staff and Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students to mingle and stimulate future collaborations. 

The event marked the start of a monthly IOMRC seminar series to be held at UWA's Crawley campus. Stay tuned for up-coming presentations from our researchers over the coming months (in the event section). 

On behalf of the OI, congratulations to the IOMRC administrative team Desiree Allen, Gyembo Gyeltshen and Linda Raynor-Thomas for hosting an engaging event.  

Featured presenters from the Oceans Institute:

  1. As/Prof Chris Fulton (Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, OI; AIMS).
  2. Dr Di McLean (Adjunct Research Fellow, OI; AIMS).
  3. Dr Tim Langlois (OI and SBS).
The upcoming seminar series are scheduled for March 24 and April 28, 2023. Researchers from across the IOMRC partnership who are interested in presenting are encouraged to contact Dr Desiree Allen (Operations Manager). The seminars are followed by a sundowner! 
Researchers presenting to a full house at the inaugural IOMRC seminar series held at the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, The University of Western Australia (Photo credit: Vivienne White). 

AIMS@UWA Spotlight Feature
live on the OI site 

AIMS@UWA PhD candidates are contributing vital research to the Reef Song project. Launched in 2022, Reef Song is part of the Australian Coral Reef Resilience Initiative (ACRRI), funded by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and BHP.

Reef Song forms part of the Australian Coral Reef Resilience Initiative (ACRRI), which integrates research spanning two World Heritage sites, Ningaloo Reef and the Great Barrier Reef, to develop innovative and impactful solutions for the sustainable management of Australia's coral reef environments. 

Research projects span fish-associated interactions that promote resilient coral reefs, building a foundation of knowledge on reef recovery and adaptation, and to develop new solutions that support coral reef restoration efforts. 


Oceans Institute News
Keep up-to-date with all the latest stories

Marine conservation champion appointed Wen Family Chair

Professor Jessica Meeuwig, an esteemed researcher from The University of Western Australia and “resilient oceans” expert, has been appointed the inaugural Wen Family Chair in Conservation, a position dedicated to meeting environmental challenges with rigorous research and public engagement. Read more here. 

UWA sustainability projects win national funding

Research projects from UWA that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from industrial projects and reduce the cost of offshore wind energy have been awarded a combined $1.4 million in funding from the ARC. Read more here

Oceans Events 

March 8

12:00 pm -
1:30 pm

International Women's Day Event
Walking Together for Change

To celebrate and reflect on International Women’s Day and diversity at UWA, come along to this panel discussion.

The core value of Australian universities rests on a community of learning in which everyone has an equal chance to participate and in which no-one is held back based on any characteristic other than their contribution to knowledge.

However, staff and students, particularly women, from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds face a range of challenges to thrive during their time at UWA.

Hear a diverse panel discuss how these challenges might be overcome and hear their views on how universities should take the lead on, or follow, initiatives designed to create better equity outcomes..

Refreshments provided.

Sunday March 12

10:00 am - 3:00 pm

The University of Western Australia OPEN DAY

About the event:

Interested in studying at The University of Western Australia?

Come along to the annual open day to discover how you can achieve your study and career goals with us. Explore our campus and talk to our academics, graduates and get to know what UWA has on offer. Be the first to know as we roll out more details by signing up below! Plus, if you’re planning on traveling to Perth specifically for this event, we will provide you with even more details on where to stay and things to do while you’re here!

Where to find us (Oceans Institute):

The Oceans Institute stall and representatives will be located in the EZONE Interactive Laboratory Space on the Ground Floor. Look out for the OI banner or ask one of UWA's friendly staff for directions! 

Register your interest below!

CRICOS Provider Code: 00126G