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Posts Tagged ‘marine science’

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

UQ marine scientists expose planetary emergency in new Netflix doc

A new Netflix documentary, Chasing Coral, has hit the world’s small screens.

UQ marine scientists expose planetary emergency in new Netflix documentary

Chasing Coral poster (Image via UQ)

The University of Queensland’s Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg was the chief scientific adviser on the documentary, which starkly records and reveals the impact of climate change on the world’s coral reefs.

Emmy award-winning filmmaker Jeff Orlowski’s film follows a team of divers, photographers and scientists on the epic ocean adventure.

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg plays a starring role in the documentary along with UQ marine scientists Dr Pim Bongaerts, Dr Manuel Gonzalez-Rivero, Professor Justin Marshall, and other world-renowned coral reef experts.

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said the documentary was a powerful way to reveal the impact climate change is having on our reefs.

“This is as much about the emotional side of reef losses as it is about the compelling science behind this planetary emergency,” he said.

For the past three years, Jeff and his team have followed the work of The Ocean Agency, revealing the global bleaching event and its impacts on the world’s coral reefs.

Audiences will witness the painful process as the team invent the first ever time-lapse camera to record coral bleaching as it happens. The effort is anything but straightforward as the scientists doggedly battle technical malfunctions and the force of nature below the waves.

With its breathtaking photography, nail-biting suspense, and startling emotion, Chasing Coral is a dramatic production.

The film is the result of more than 650 hours spent underwater, footage from volunteers in 30 countries, as well as support from more than 500 people from across the world.

Chasing Coral by Exposure Labs premiered on Netflix, and was produced in association with Argent Pictures, The Kendeda Fund and in partnership with The Ocean Agency and View Into the Blue.

Master of Environmental Management at the University of Queensland

Environmental management is the planning and implementation of actions geared to improve the quality of the human environment. The postgraduate programs in environmental management at UQ are multidisciplinary programs designed to enhance the skills and technical expertise of graduates working in all facets of the environmental arena. The programs aim to produce managers able to address the many issues in the highly complex and changing area of environmental management. At the master’s level the degree may be taken in a range of fields.

Studies may be undertaken in the following specialisations:

  • Conservation biology
  • Conservation and Natural Resource Management
  • Resource and Environmental Economics
  • Sustainable Development

Why study Conservation Biology?
One of the biggest problems confronting biologists worldwide is the increased extinction rate of animal and plant species. This is due in large part to the impact humans have had on land use, climate and resource consumption—an impact that is decreasing the earth’s biodiversity and increasing the number of endangered or threatened species at an alarming rate. Conservation biology is an integrative discipline that focuses on the problems of restoring and maintaining viable populations of animal and plant species, and natural and managed ecosystems. The program aims to provide core theoretical and practical training in conservation biology.

Program: Master of Environmental Management
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Semester intakes: February and July
Duration: 1.5 years

Admissions requirements

Bachelor degree in environmental studies, geography, natural resources, biology, ecology, conservation, sustainable development, environmental engineering, marine science, or an approved discipline. UQ or equivalent GPA of 4.5 or above on a 7 point scale.

Apply to the University of Queensland!

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Are you interested in studying environmental sciences or marine science at the University of Queensland? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Heather Brown for more information at heather@oztrekk.com.

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

JCU marine biology student explains how to get volunteer experience while studying in Australia

Remember JCU marine biology student Kessia? Well, she’s back with more great advice. This time, Kessia chats about gaining valuable volunteer experience while you are studying in Australia!

When I first started uni, all the lecturers encouraged us to get volunteering experience. Lots of emphasis was put on it and we were told how this was the way to get a job in the future. Volunteering allows you to put into practice what you have learned in your lectures to the real-world situations.

JCU marine biology student: How to get volunteer experience while studying

Volunteering with the Australian Marine Conservation Society on Magnetic Island (Photo: JCU)

I’ve put together a few tips on how to get volunteering, more specifically in the science field.

  1. Talk to your lecturers

This is the best way to get your first volunteering experience. If you are interested in a particular field, then talk to the lecturer and ask if they can point you in the right direction in terms of volunteering. You never know, they might have some opportunity for you. In first year, it is sometimes intimidating to go up and talk to the lecturer in a class of 100 students. But do not let the class size stop you. Most lecturers will appreciate your interest in their field of study and will be happy to give you advice.

  1. Join the volunteer list at JCU

There is a database for students willing to volunteer for PhD candidates who might need a hand. Once you join the email list, you will receive emails from students who are looking for a couple of hands to help collect data on the field or help with laboratory work and so on. Some of my friends have been able to go on trips such as collecting seagrass for dugong surveys, or collecting water samples from Ross River.  I have had the opportunity to deploy underwater cameras around Hinchinbrook Island. It was definitely a rewarding experience, one that I will do again if I get the chance.

  1. Join the Facebook group

Each college at JCU has a Facebook group. For example, for marine biologists and other environmental courses, the JCU College of Biological, Marine & Environmental Sciences (BioMES) has a Facebook page where students sometimes post about volunteering or job opportunities. You can find come precious information on this group about lots of things. I highly recommend joining the group related to your faculty.

  1. TropWater

The group offers internships to students for a semester in different fields, including aquaculture, mangrove habitats, wetlands, etc. TropWater applications are due a semester before. It offers hands-on experience and you get to work with people who are experts in their field.

  1. Research facilities

James Cook University has a several research facilities on campus including MACRO which works with macroalgae; MARFU, the aquarium complex; MBD, the microalgae site; or EGRU, Geology Research Centre among others. If you talk to the right people, you can get volunteering opportunities at those research centres which are right on campus. From feeding fish, to laboratory work, to cleaning tanks, there is a lot you can learn at those facilities. Even more so, you can volunteer at the Orpheus Island research centre and while helping with cleaning duties, you can spend the rest of your day snorkeling in the amazing protected marine park. You would be required to be on the island for a week or so but it is worth it. Don’t forget to get yourself an Orpheus shirt so you can brag about it to your friends.

  1. Other organisations

There are various other organisations you can volunteer with, including the Australian Marine Conservation Society, an amazing organisation that sensitizes the public on how human-induced impacts on the reef such as coal mining.

  • Australian Marine Conservation Society on Magnetic Island
  • Conservation Volunteers Australia
  • NQ Dry Tropics – helps with beach clean-ups
  • Reek Check Australia – they offer training programs on how to collect data on the reef
  • Australian Institute of Marine Science – A government organisation that runs several research experiments on the Great Barrier Reef. You would need a supervisor/lecturer willing to sponsor your volunteering there.
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  • Reef HQ

From my own experience, I have found volunteering very rewarding and have learnt a lot in different fields. Talking to people in the field and seeing what it means to apply all I learnt in classes is eye-opening. Do not be discouraged if you find it hard to get any volunteering in the first few years. The more you talk to lecturers or other students, the easier you will find volunteering opportunities. Ask questions! Even if it is not related to your field of interest, having skills and experience in different fields can be beneficial for when you are applying for a job later. The more volunteering you do, the more experience and knowledge you will acquire. This is the hands-on stuff you will need for a job! So, go out there and take the opportunities given to you.

Read Kessia’s other blog, 5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

Marine biology at JCU

Think you might be interested in marine biology? JCU’s location in the tropics allows students and research staff ready access to a wide variety of tropical marine systems including coral reefs, tropical estuaries, mangrove habitats and seagrass beds. Links between research and teaching programs ensure that students are at the cutting edge of marine research.

Program: Master of Science (Marine Biology and Ecology)
Location: Townsville, Queensland
Duration: 1.5 years
Semester intakes: July or February
Application deadline: June 29 and January 30 each year
Entry requirements: Completion of a recognised, appropriate undergraduate degree attaining a minimum of 65% or equivalent prior learning including appropriate professional experience.

Apply to the Master of Science at James Cook University!

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Are you interested in studying marine biology at James Cook University? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com for more information!

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

Here’s a James Cook University Student Blog about studying marine biology, and why JCU is such a fantastic choice!

Before I came to university, I had a hard time deciding which university to choose. Making a list and weighing all the advantages and disadvantages helped me to make my decision and I surely do not regret it now. Coming to JCU was the best decision I made. Here is a small list of why I think JCU is the best place in the world to study marine biology.

5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

JCU marine biology student Kessia Virah-Sawmy (Photo: JCU Connect)

1. So close to the iconic Great Barrier Reef

I come from an island found in the tropics and my country is surrounded by fringing reefs. I wanted to study somewhere where I could learn about corals and reef fishes and where best to do it than right on the Great Barrier Reef, the largest reef on the planet and a world heritage. The location of the GBR was the main reason why I chose JCU. With the reef right at their doorstep, researchers and students at JCU can work very closely on coral reefs.

Being in the tropics also means that Townsville has hot summers and nice (not-so-cold) winters. It is like summer all year round which is very similar to my tropical home. It was thus not a problem for me to adapt to this new environment.

2. Best facilities and lecturers

Studying marine biology at JCU means that you have access to a wide number of facilities from live specimens in practical classes to research facilities in both marine biology and aquaculture. JCU has a marine research station on Orpheus island which is located just off the coast of Ingham, about 2 hours North of Townsville. With accommodation and research facilities on the island, students can go on the island for specific classes to study the incredible marine life that surrounds the island.

James Cook University is highly recognised in terms of research done in the marine field including coral reef research, shark research or fisheries work. For the past years that I have been at JCU, I have had the great privilege of having lecturers who are experts in their field and who are eager and passionate to pass on their knowledge to the next generation. It is always great to hear about their experience and how they became who they are today. It gives us a sense of pride when we read a paper written by one of our lecturers or seeing them on the news. The JCU lecturers are world-known scientists who work with different research bodies such as the ARC (Australian Research Council) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies or the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

Diving is a given at JCU (Photo: JCU Connect)

3. Incredible field trips

As soon as I started first year, the lecturers were already getting us excited about field trips. Field trips are by far the most exciting part about studying marine biology. From going up Castle hill to look at rocks, to going down to the strand to count snails, or visiting fish farms, to snorkelling for hours around Orpheus island, I have been able to go on some incredible field trips so far.

Field trips makes the course even more interesting. You look forward to this one weekend where you get to spend 2 days on an island surrounded by the most beautiful coral reefs where you snorkel for hours and hours without getting tired of it. Or you get excited when you get to discover the breathtaking North Queensland while visiting fish farms. There are quite a few classes that have field trips to Orpheus island such as MB3160- Evolution and Ecology of Reef fishes, MB3190- Coral Reef Ecology, MB3210- Life History and Evolution of Reef Corals, MB3300- Coral Reef Ecosystems and EV3406- Coral Reef Geomorphology. I also enjoyed the AQ2002- Introduction to Tropical Aquaculture class where we got to visit different aquaculture farms in North Queensland.

4. Diving opportunities

The Great Barrier Reef offers amazing diving opportunities. From shallow reef diving off Cairns to the world-known shipwreck dive of Yongala, there is lots to see and discover. I had the chance to do get my Advanced PADI open water course on a liveaboard on the GBR. It was the best experience ever! We were able to dive with sharks, turtles and rays and see some amazing corals.

5 reasons to study marine biology at James Cook University

The iconic Great Barrier Reef (Photo: JCU Connect)

The JCU Dive Club also offers a number of trips throughout the semester ranging from day trips to 10-day trips on the reef. It is one of the most famous and active clubs on campus. They also offer courses such as Open divers, Advanced Divers, Rescue divers or CPR and First Aid courses.

5. Meeting people from all over the world

JCU is well known for marine studies and therefore attracts students from all over the world. I am not lying when I say that most of my classmates are international students. From Asia, to Europe, to the USA, to Africa, I have met people from all over the place. It is great to see how multicultural the campus is. As an international, this provides a welcoming environment where you learn to accept each other’s culture. I have developed close and strong friendships with different people and I can’t wait to travel the world and visit all of them.

I have also met some amazing Australian people who are always so eager to make us discover their culture which is mainly Barbies and a “cool” attitude. They are by far the most welcoming people I have ever met. A few months in the country and the Aussies will have already taught you how to speak Australian, which is basically just shortening every word.

There are so many more reasons to why I chose JCU but those are my top 5. JCU is recognised worldwide as one of the best in marine research, more specifically in Coral Reef research and Tropical Aquaculture. Many of my friends back home were sceptic as to why I would come all the way to far North Queensland to study Marine Biology. Well now I can tell them that it is the best decision I have made and I would not have chosen a different university.

Story by Kessia Virah-Sawmy via JCU Connect

Master of Science in Marine Biology and Ecology

JCU is the leading education and research institution for Marine Biology in the Tropics. JCU’s unique location enables students from Australia and overseas to study in a diverse physical environment unparalleled by any university in the world.

The postgraduate degree program in Marine Biology and Ecology is internationally recognised. We focus on developing career professionals who can address the grand challenges for marine and coastal ecosystems, particularly in the tropical Asia-Pacific region. You will be researching and tackling issues such as

  • Climate change, ecosystem resilience and adaptation
  • Ecosystem restoration
  • Environmental and ecological sustainability
  • Biodiversity and conservation challenges for marine organisms and ecosystems
  • Sustainable marine resource management
  • Global and regional food security
  • Sustainable livelihoods for coastal and island based societies.

Program: Master of Science (Marine Biology and Ecology)
Location: Townsville, Queensland
Duration: 1.5 years
Semester intakes: February and July
Application deadline: January 30 and June 29 each year
Entry requirements: Completion of a recognised, appropriate undergraduate degree attaining a minimum of 65% or equivalent prior learning including appropriate professional experience.

Apply to the Master of Science at James Cook University!

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Are you interested in studying marine biology at James Cook University? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com for more information!

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Deal opens Galapagos Islands to James Cook University

James Cook University staff and students will have the opportunity to study in the crucible of evolutionary theory, the Galapagos Islands, under a new agreement.

Deal opens Galapagos Islands to James Cook University

Signing the agreement in Quito. Left to right: Professor Diego Quioroga, Vice-President of Research and External Affairs, Universidad San Francisco de Quito; Professor Terry Magnuson, VC for Research, University of North Carolina; Professor Iain Gordon, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Tropical Environments and Societies, JCU (Photo credit: JCU)

The agreement allows JCU staff and students access to the Galapagos Science Centre: a world-class research and teaching facility on the Galapagos Island of San Cristobal, which is globally recognised as a pristine, unique ecosystem.

JCU’s Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Division of Tropical Environments and Societies, Professor Iain Gordon, signed the Galapagos Marine Science Consortium Agreement at a ceremony in Quito, Ecuador last month.

Professor Gordon said the intent is for JCU to collaborate with partner universities in areas of research and teaching with a focus on the Galapagos Islands.

“The Galapagos Islands are iconic for their part in shaping Darwin’s ideas on evolution. As with the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics, the Galapagos Islands are recognised by the United Nations as a World Heritage Area. Today, however, they are under unprecedented pressure from development and tourism.

“This partnership, with two world-class universities, will allow our researchers and students to study the human and environmental issues associated with conservation and sustainable development on the islands.

“We will also help build the capacity of Ecuador’s researchers and provide advice to the Ecuadorian Government as to how to manage this unique archipelago,” said Professor Gordon.

He said that, in the first instance, there is also great scope for JCU intensive courses to be run on San Cristobal and adjacent islands in the Galapagos group.

The arrangement will run for the next two years.

James Cook University’s major partners in the Galapagos Marine Science Consortium are the University of San Francisco Quito (Ecuador) and the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). Minor partners are the University of the Sunshine Coast and University of Brunei daar Salam.

The partner universities will collaborate based on their specialities; i.e., UNC has advanced genomic facilities and USFQ has local knowledge of the biodiversity and logistics. Each year there will be collaborative cruises among the islands for researchers and students from the different universities.

JCU College of Marine and Environmental Sciences

As part of the Division of Tropical Environments and Societies, the College of Marine and Environmental Sciences promotes, fosters, supports and administers quality teaching and research at JCU in the areas of marine biology, environment, geography and sustainability, aquaculture and fisheries, and terrestrial ecosystems.

Marine science is the interdisciplinary study of the marine environment bringing together elements of marine biology, oceanography, marine geoscience and environmental management. Marine scientists explore the make-up and dynamics of the world’s oceans and use their skills to investigate and manage human impacts on the marine environment; understand and utilise ocean resources; and manage and protect our marine reserves.

JCU’s location in the tropics allows students and research staff ready access to a wide variety of tropical marine systems including coral reefs, tropical estuaries, mangrove habitats and seagrass beds. Links between research and teaching programs ensure that students are at the cutting edge of marine research.

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Are you interested in marine science? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com for more information about environmental sciences degrees available at James Cook University!

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Finding Nemo with new app

Visitors and residents along Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef can play a starring role as citizen scientists to build a brighter future for ‘Nemo’ clownfish and their anemone homes.

The IC-ANEMONE (or ‘I See Anemone’) app launch for National Science Week (Aug. 13–21) invites holiday-seekers and Queenslanders to get involved in saving Nemo by recording sightings in the wild via a new mobile phone app.

Help scientists find Nemo in Queensland with new app

Help scientists find Nemo (Photo: UQ)

This monitoring will help marine biologists from the University of Queensland and Flinders University to expand their conservation efforts.

UQ School of Biological Sciences PhD candidate and Saving Nemo Queensland Project Coordinator Carmen da Silva said she couldn’t wait to show reef visitors how to use the app and get involved.

“This is a really exciting way to gain an understanding of the numbers and the health of anemones and clown fish in the region,” she said.

“If we can get more people excited about reef conservation, hopefully more people will want to help save the reef.”

Her mother, and program director Karen Burke da Silva, is also Associate Professor of Biodiversity and Conservation at Flinders University in South Australia.

“We know that numbers are declining at some coral reefs both in Australia and overseas,” she says.

“We would love citizen scientists to use the new IC-ANEMONE app and learn how they can identify species while snorkelling and diving during their holiday.

“The information collected will be combined with other publicly available data, such as weather and collection statistics, to build a better understanding for clownfish conservation.”

Data collected with the app will enable scientists to monitor density, diversity, health and interspecies relationships of clownfish and anemones in protected and exploited sites across the Great Barrier Reef.

From Aug. 13, scientists from both universities will demonstrate the new app at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority’s Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville, Cairns and Lizard Island.

IC-ANEMONE will help to create the first global database to better understand where clownfish and anemones occur and what threatens their survival in the wild.

Climate change, anemone bleaching, land use practices and over-collection are all potential threats to the species’ survival now and into the future, Associate Professor Burke da Silva says.

Up-to-date visualisations of data, for example maps of where particular clownfish are most frequently reported, will be available for people to compare their sightings to others in their region and beyond.

Using Australia as a baseline, the program will be expanded to include other popular tourism and high vulnerability in Southeast Asia where sustainable fishing practices have not been well enforced resulting in local extinctions.

The National Science Week initiative borrows from the conservation theme of the Disney movies Finding Nemo and sequel Finding Dory, urging the aquaria trade and pet owners to leave wild fish on coral reefs and protect marine sanctuaries from destructive exploitation.

For more information, please go to http://www.savingnemo.org/ or follow on Twitter @savenemo.

This Inspiring Australia initiative is supported by the Australian Government as part of National Science Week.

Discover more about studying marine science at the UQ School of Biological Sciences. Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com for more information!

Monday, May 30th, 2016

JCU research leader wins top science honour

One of James Cook University’s top researchers has received Australia’s most prestigious science honour, the fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science.

JCU research leader wins top science honour

Australian Academy of Science Fellow, Distinguished Professor David Bellwood (Photo: Richard Davis, JCU Media)

The Academy announced the election of Distinguished Professor David Bellwood as Fellow for his sustained and significant contributions to Australian science.

Professor Bellwood is the fifth JCU professor to be elected to the Academy. He said it’s an honour to join the elite, 500-strong Fellowship.

“It’s a wonderful feeling. I’m delighted to be part of a fellowship that includes so many people that I admire and respect. It’s an absolute treat!”

Professor Bellwood is a leading expert on the evolution and ecology of reef fishes. The central theme of his research is to understand the functional role that fishes play on coral reefs, and how reefs have changed through evolutionary time.

David Bellwood said he has always been fascinated by marine life.

“Coral reefs are one of the most important ecosystems in the world. In Australia they’re worth billions of dollars to our economy, and around the world millions of people rely on coral reefs for a source of nutrition and income.

“For me, I like to look at fishes as machines. I like to see the way they operate and this gives us a new understanding of how reefs are working.”

He said one of the best parts of his job is to teach the next generation of scientists.

“The world is changing and we’ve got a lot of environmental problems and coral reefs are particularly vulnerable. What we need to be able to do is to give the next generation the tools that they’re going to need to be able to cope with these changes.

“One of my main goals is to give future students, future researchers, the confidence to question and to think for themselves because we’re going to need to be innovative, imaginative and bold if we’re going to address the problems that we currently face,” Professor Bellwood said.

JCU College of Marine and Environmental Sciences

As part of the Division of Tropical Environments and Societies, the College of Marine and Environmental Sciences promotes, fosters, supports and administers quality teaching and research at JCU in the areas of marine biology, environment, geography and sustainability, aquaculture and fisheries, and terrestrial ecosystems.

Marine science is the interdisciplinary study of the marine environment bringing together elements of marine biology, oceanography, marine geoscience and environmental management. Marine scientists explore the make-up and dynamics of the world’s oceans and use their skills to investigate and manage human impacts on the marine environment; understand and utilise ocean resources; and manage and protect our marine reserves.

JCU’s location in the tropics allows students and research staff ready access to a wide variety of tropical marine systems including coral reefs, tropical estuaries, mangrove habitats and seagrass beds. Links between research and teaching programs ensure that students are at the cutting edge of marine research.

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Are you interested in marine science? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com for more information about environmental sciences degrees available at James Cook University!

Friday, May 20th, 2016

The world found Nemo, but can we save him?

We all know the heart-warming tale of Finding Nemo, but clownfish populations on coral reefs have been declining since the film’s release, due to the popularity of a ‘Nemo’ in household aquariums.

Researchers from the University of Queensland and Flinders University have teamed up in an effort to ensure Nemo can be found exactly where he should be—in his sea anemone home on coral reefs.

Associate Professor Karen Burke da Silva and Anita Nedosyko

Associate Professor Karen Burke da Silva and Anita Nedosyko (Photo credit: UQ)

The Saving Nemo Conservation Fund aims to provide education, awareness and captive breeding programs to protect popular marine ornamental species that are often captured on reefs for sale in pet shops.

UQ School of Biological Sciences PhD candidate and Saving Nemo Queensland Project Coordinator Carmen da Silva said the marine fish aquarium trade was a major cause of coral reef fish decline.

“What most people don’t realise is that about 90 per cent of marine fish found in aquarium shops come from the wild,” she said.

“Reef fish populations are already struggling due to warmer sea temperatures and ocean acidification caused by global warming.

“The last thing they need is to be plucked off reefs.”

The team has started an ambitious campaign to raise a million fish kisses on social media with the hashtag #fishkiss4nemo.

They hope to capture the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who voices the loveable yet forgetful Dory in Finding Nemo and the upcoming sequel, Finding Dory.

Saving Nemo co-founders and Flinders University researchers Anita Nedosyko and Associate Professor Karen Burke da Silva said the release of the sequel in June could cause a resurgence of ornamental species being pilfered from reefs—this time Dory’s species, the blue tang.

Miss Nedosyko said people took the wrong message from the film.

“People fell in love with the adorable characters and wanted to keep them as pets, instead of understanding the film’s conservation message of keeping Nemo in the ocean where he belongs,” she said.

Professor Burke da Silva said the team has been running a clownfish breeding program for the past five years, selling sustainable clownfish to local aquariums.

“Clownfish are extremely easy to breed and females lay many eggs at a time so there is really no reason to collect them from the wild. Nursery-bred fish are also far happier and healthier in tanks than wild-caught fish,” she said.

The researchers are also examining how anemone venom can be used as a bio-active anti-cancer product.

You can give a #fishkiss4nemo on social media or go to www.savingnemo.org to get involved with the campaign.

Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland

The UQ School of Biological Sciences is situated on the St Lucia campus in Brisbane and is part of the Faculty of Science. Academic staff conduct research in evolution, global change biology, ecology, aquaculture, behaviour, physiology, entomology, zoology, botany, genomics, development and conservation biology. World-class infrastructure, proximity to stunning habitats and biodiversity, and UQ’s tropical-subtropical location contribute to its unique working environment.

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Are you interested in studying science at the UQ School of Biological Sciences? Find out more by emailing OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Macquarie scientists help develop coral reef database

With the future of coral reefs threatened now more than ever, researchers have announced the release of a new global database that enables scientists and managers to more quickly and effectively help corals survive their many challenges.

Macquarie University Science degrees

Coral reefs are changing rapidly (Photo credit: Macquarie University)

“Coral reefs are changing rapidly, and that is unlikely to slow down,” said Associate Professor Joshua Madin from Macquarie University’s Genes to Geoscience Research Centre, who led the team developing the database.

“If we don’t understand these changes, we can’t protect these species-rich ecosystems. We need to speed the science up, and to think creatively about how to do that.”

In a paper describing the database, published recently in Scientific Data, Professors Andrew Baird and Sean Connolly from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) say the Coral Trait Database will assist scientists working on coral reefs answer a multitude of questions.

“The trait database is the first of its kind for corals and will allow coral reef scientists to begin to address many significant, unresolved questions—and much faster,” Professor Baird says.

“Traits are fundamental to most aspects of the ecology and evolution of organisms,” he explains. “For example, the Great Barrier Reef is now in the grip of perhaps the largest coral bleaching episode in history, and this database can help scientists explain why some species are more susceptible than others.”

Baird, Madin and their colleagues spent thousands of hours compiling the database over the past few years. They sifted through papers published in journals, tables printed in books, and examined other resources scattered around the globe.

Some of the data had been buried in obscure, often difficult to access—but highly informative—books dating back to the 1800s. The Coral Trait Database promises to save a lot of time, money and effort across all fields of coral reef studies.

“A lot of these data were not easily accessible, and it was expensive for many to get to,” explains Professor Sean Connolly. “So much of the Coral Trait Database content was previously only available to the ‘elite.’ The existence of this tool also means the coral reef research community can cut down on redundant research efforts.”

Coral reefs remain one of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on the planet, hosting more species than any other marine environment. Globally, an estimated 275 million people rely directly on coral reefs for food, protection from waves and storms, income, and cultural value. They are also crucial in providing protection and habitat for healthy fish populations. However, in the past 20 years, coral cover has diminished by as much as 95 percent in some locations.

Climate change and the El Niño of the recent months combined are currently contributing to a global mass-bleaching event—and on a scale previously unseen in recorded history. Added stresses from pollution and over-fishing further complicate coral reef health.

“There are hardly any questions you can’t ask of the database: its number of uses are extraordinary, but progress in these areas has been hindered by the lack of readily accessible trait data,” said Madin.

“We hope this database will support scientists trying to make a difference by providing them access to the data they need quickly, and at no cost.”

Macquarie University Department of Biological Sciences

Macquarie University has an international reputation for being innovative in the study of science. It is at the forefront of research nationally and internationally, and excels in the application and commercialization of new discoveries. Macquarie offers a unique range of interdisciplinary postgraduate degrees across a number of areas including environmental management, environmental education, environmental health, environmental planning, environmental science, environmental studies, sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, geography, geoscience, marine science, museum studies and wildlife management.

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Find out more about marine biology and marine science programs at Macquarie University. Contact OzTREKK Admission Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call 1-866-698-7355.

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

‘Twilight zone’ fish swim silently with forked tails

An international team of researchers has identified a way to predict which reef fish can live across a greater range of depths, from shallow depths to the mesophotic or “twilight zone,” increasing their chances of surviving natural disasters such as cyclones and coral bleaching.

Study lead author, Dr Tom Bridge from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, says the research, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that tail shape can help predict if a fish is likely to exist across a range of water depths.

JCU Sciences

Photo: Dr Tom Bridge

“We thought that the ability to see in deep, dark waters would influence which fish could live in both shallow and deep habitats; however, we found that the ‘caudal fin aspect ratio,’ which measures the shape of the fish’s tail, is the best predictor of which fish can live in both sun-drenched shallows and the ‘twilight zone’,” Dr Bridge says.

“In other words, fishes with more forked tails are significantly more likely to be found in both shallow and deep habitats than species with more rounded tails.”

Dr Bridge says it’s not known exactly why this is the case, though it’s suspected that the forked tail allows fish to swim more silently.

“The capacity for ‘stealth swimming’ is particularly important in deeper habitats, where light irradiance and wave energy are low and species rely on sensing changes in water pressure to capture prey and avoid predators.”

Coral reefs are typically thought to occur in shallow, sun-lit waters, but new technology is revealing that reefs in the ocean’s ‘twilight zone’—50–150 m deep—support diverse and unique communities.

However, conditions on these deep reefs can be challenging for coral reef fishes, with low light, high pressure, and low temperatures.

Study co-author, Dr Osmar Luiz from Macquarie University says species that can survive in the twilight zone may be less susceptible to population declines and extinction.

“Identifying which species can occur over a broad depth range is important for understanding which fish are more vulnerable to local population declines and extinction, particularly from disturbances such as cyclones and coral bleaching events.”

The researchers say the next step is to understand exactly what it is about the forked tails that provides fishes with such an advantage in deeper water.

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Are you interested in studying marine biology at James Cook University or marine science programs at Macquarie University? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355 for more information.

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Attenborough interactive website highlights UQ reef research

University of Queensland scientific research on the Great Barrier Reef is in the international spotlight with the recent launch of an interactive website to complement a BBC television series released on Dec. 30, 2015.

Conservationist Sir David Attenborough and Atlantic Productions teamed with scientists and academic institutions—including UQ—involved in coral science to create the David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef: An Interactive Journey website.

UQ reef research

Sir David Attenborough introducing the interactive website (Image credit: UQ)

The site focuses on four Great Barrier Reef locations, including the UQ Heron Island Research Station near Gladstone, and Lady Elliot Island, the locations of UQ’s Project Manta, funded by the Australian Research Council and industry.

UQ Heron Island Research Station manager Dr Elizabeth Perkins said the station’s boating and diving officer, Ben Potts, featured in a video on the website.

“It’s fantastic to have the research station featured,” Dr Perkins said. “Our staff were excited to have the team on site, to watch them set up shots, and to take Sir David to various locations. He’s a remarkable person.”

Mr Potts said it was a privilege to work at the station, with its fully equipped scientific laboratories only 20m from the beach, and to know that scientific information collected there was playing an important role in policy development.

UQ Global Change Institute director Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who was interviewed for the series, said researchers had created a little part of the Great Barrier Reef in experimental tanks at the Heron Island Research Station.

By subjecting coral to different conditions, marine scientists were able to closely model the effects of climate change.

“If we act on ocean warming and acidification and climate change in general, we’ll still have some of the corals left,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

“As we stabilise conditions on the planet, we will get the Great Barrier Reef re-growing.

“I think that’s really important—that it’s not all over. We still have time to act, and it’s worth acting.”

Professor Gregg Webb of the UQ School of Earth Sciences also features in the series.

Professor Webb is co-leader of an international team recovering high-quality core samples from One Tree Reef in the southern Great Barrier Reef, with the purpose-built UQ research vessel, the RV D. Hill.

Sir David’s team filmed UQ Moreton Bay Research Station Education Coordinator Dr Kathy Townsend underwater with manta rays and interviewed her about manta ray research at Lady Elliot Island.

Dr Townsend, Professor Mike Bennett of UQ’s School of Biomedical Sciences and other Project Manta researchers will have an ongoing reminder of Sir David.

The UK team filmed a manta—of a species they had not seen before—in amorous mode, and the researchers subsequently dubbed it “Attenborough.”

“Sir David was quite chuffed to have a manta ray named after him,” Dr Townsend said.

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Are you interested in studying environmental sciences or marine science at the University of Queensland? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Shannon Tilston for more information at shannon@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.