Rob's blog

Deep Down Under expedition to the Coral Sea

The Deep Down Under research expedition finished in Cairns, Australia after a successful voyage to the Queensland Plateau in the Coral Sea. The expedition aimed to investigate relict fauna, or animals that were previously thought to be extinct, but have persisted almost unchanged on the deep reef slopes since the late Mesozoic (>65 MYA), such as sponges, brachiopods, echinoderms and Nautilus cephalopods. The expedition used a Cherokee Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) from the Centre for Marine Environmental Sciences (marum) in Bremen, Germany, to investigate deep-sea life down to about 800 metres depth.

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RV Sonne deep seabed survey in the Coral Sea

The German RV Sonne has one of the best deep-water multibeam mapping systems in the world, the Simrad EM120. The vessel was contracted by Leibnitz-Institute for Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) to conduct a series of oceanographic and marine geology expeditions in the Western Pacific during October to December 2009. Townsville was chosen as a convenient port to do a crew change-over and so the ship would have to transit across the Coral Sea to Australia. The Chief Scientists agreed to conduct a deep-water seabed survey with the EM120 multibeam system during the transit between PNG and Australia.

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The new Future Research Vessel for Australia

The Australian Government has committed $120 million to the purchase of a new 85 metre research vessel for the Marine National Facility (MNF), together with an additional $30 million for the operation and maintenance of the current Australian research vessel, the RV Southern Surveyor. The Future Research Vessel (FRV) Project will open new opportunities for science to contribute to the sustainable development and management of ocean resources for the benefit of future generations. Scientists around Australia have been invited to contribute to the FRV Technical Working Group to help develop the specifications for a multi-role, blue water research vessel and its scientific equipment.

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RRRC GBR Operations Committee Meeting

Several times during the year, the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC) hold Great Barrier Reef Operations Committee Meetings in Townsville, Australia. These meetings are an opportunity for the various marine scientists who have been awarded Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility (MTSRF) funding to provide updates on their research progress. I attended for the first time and gave a seminar to the assembled scientists, titled '3D-GBR: A high-resolution depth model for the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea'.

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Queensland Smart Futures Fellowship

I was awarded a 2009 Queensland Smart Futures Fellowship for the project: High-resolution depth model for the Great Barrier Reef and adjoining Coral Sea. The Level 2 Fellowship is awarded by the Queensland Government and so I attended an award presentation ceremony at Parliament House in Brisbane, meeting the Premier Anna Bligh and the Treasurer Andrew Fraser, along with other Fellowship recipients. Combined with matching funds from the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC) and James Cook University (JCU), the Fellowship provides a total of $300,000 towards the cost of the three-year project.

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