Marine park research under way

Collecting samples in Coffin Bay on the southern Eyre Peninsula.

An in-depth marine survey is under way at Coffin Bay, at the bottom of Eyre Peninsula, to boost our knowledge of the coastline in the Thorny Passage Marine Park.

Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) Senior Scientific Officer Dr Simon Bryars said the survey would run until 15 September.

“Researchers from Flinders University will collect samples from Coffin Bay and the surrounding shallow bays, and count the marine species present,” Dr Bryars said.

“The Coffin Bay habitats are highly biologically diverse, but they have never been investigated to this level of detail before.”

The Flinders University team is working with support from DEWNR, and their results will feed directly into the marine parks monitoring program, strengthening the data we have to show the effectiveness of marine parks in conserving marine species and habitat.

Members of the Flinders research group on location – Rene Campbell, left, Ryan Baring, Patrick Fitzgerald, Hayley Jessup-Case and Nick Thyer.

Thorny Passage Marine Park provides important habitat for many sea creatures, with 13 species of whales having been spotted in the area, as well as a wide range of fish, sea birds and other animals and plants.

Flinders University School of Biological Sciences researcher Dr Ryan Baring said it was very exciting as a pilot project.

“We hope to expand this into other shallow bays along the western Eyre Peninsula coast,” Dr Baring said.

“The Coffin Bay ecosystem is home to a wealth of species, both in the sea and on the shoreline, and we are looking forward to studying them more closely.

“We are focusing on investigating the bays’ soft sediments, shoreline biodiversity and seagrass bed communities, and the human factors that can affect water quality, like agricultural run-off and aquaculture.

“We are very happy to be able to feed our results back into the marine park monitoring program, and hopefully also assist with local NRM planning for the Coffin Bay area.”

For more information on marine park research, visit the DEWNR website here



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