Authors: Przeslawski, R., Beaman, R., Fava, L., Nichol, S., Woehler, E.J., Yule, C.
Publication: Wessel Marine Park Post-Survey Report for IN2019T02. Report to the National Environmental Science Program, Marine Biodiversity Hub, Geoscience Australia, Canberra, Australia, pp. 34.
Australia has established the world’s largest network of marine protected areas and is now tasked with managing this vast and valuable resource. However, the lack of information in many marine parks about the seafloor and associated biota may hinder effective monitoring. One such area is the Wessel Marine Park in northern Australia, which is regarded as a biodiversity hotspot and culturally significant, but is also one of the most data-poor marine parks within the North Network. This project collected data to map the seafloor and characterise habitats of targeted areas within the Wessel Marine Park, providing crucial baseline information to better understand and manage this marine park, including those sites sacred to local indigenous communities.
This survey has uncovered a unique filter feeding community in the Wessel Marine Park that appears to be associated with a deep hole and scour feature containing high concentrations of nutrients.
The Wessel Marine Park project acquired multibeam data adjacent to that previously collected in 2005, as well as concurrent sub-bottom profile data. We also mapped a small grid to the south of this area over a possible raised geomorphic feature as indicated on the hydrographic chart. Four 1500 m video transects were undertaken across a range of geomorphic features and depth gradients, and two CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) casts were made, one at the deepest part of the study area and one at consistent shelf depths for the area. In addition, seabirds were surveyed during daylight hours throughout the Wessel Marine Park as part of Supplementary Project 3 during this survey.