22 November 2023

Welcome to the November 2023 issue of The Blue Drummer, the newsletter of the National Environmental Science Program Marine and Coastal Hub.

First, we would like to announce the new hub website! Same address, but a major refresh, with 60 projects and a raft of publications to explore. This includes final reports from our 2021 Research Plan and summaries of projects that began in 2022 and 2023.

You can navigate the website by project or topic, or jump to the stories section for highlights. Each project page has tabs to find participants, publications and data, and a map showing its coverage. We’re also showcasing hub research through a public imagery catalogue.

Last month the hub’s proposed projects under Research Plan 2024 were submitted to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water for review and approval. It’s a diverse and challenging portfolio addressing local, regional and national priority needs identified together with hub research partners and research users. These priority areas include:

  • Improving regional planning in northern Australia by assessing the extent, condition and vulnerability of key environmental resources.
  • Continuing to advance identified Indigenous research and monitoring priorities for Sea Country and approaches for coordinated monitoring across regional groups.
  • Continued evaluation of environmental information and risks to support development of offshore windfarms.
  • Reviewing the barriers to implementing coastal and marine restoration and nature-based solutions.
  • Developing approaches to determine the status of values and pressures and measure effectiveness of marine protected places.
  • Developing cost-effective approaches to monitoring condition and trend of priority threatened and migratory species and ecological communities.

Following approval, which is expected in December, these projects will be added to the website. We look forward to updating you on their progress. In the meantime, please see the snippets below for links to our latest stories.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Jordan, Marine and Coastal Hub southern node leader
Damien Burrows, Marine and Coastal Hub northern node leader

Reaching out to Sea Country

Meet Jessica Riley, the Indigenous facilitator for the southern node of the Marine and Coastal Hub. Jessica's aim in this role is to support the greater inclusion of Indigenous aspirations to care for and monitor Sea Country.

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How far do sawfish go?

Commercial fishers in the Top End worked with hub researchers to tag and track more than 40 sawfish. One of the tracked animals, a largetooth sawfish, swam 1000 km in two months.

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Come foraging with ‘sea lion cam'

Cameras attached to the backs of Australian sea lions are helping to identify important habitat and potential threats for this Endangered species. “It’s like going for a rollercoaster ride on the back of the animal . . . “

Dive in!

GBR survey confirms dugong decline

Aerial surveys conducted in 2022 confirmed a declining trend in dugong populations persisting across two decades. Extensive seagrass losses are depriving dugongs of their primary food source.

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Mystery in the meadows

Traditional Owners, Indigenous rangers and scientists have recorded declining seagrass meadows in areas of western Torres Strait. These were in places with unusually high numbers of dugongs and sea turtles.

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Southern right whales missing singles

Scientists surveying ‘western' southern right whales have seen the lowest number of unaccompanied animals since 1993. Share the spectacular view from the survey aircraft circling above whales gathering in the Bight.

Spot more!

Who’s talking about offshore wind energy?

People involved in assembling the environmental knowledge base for offshore wind energy development off Gippsland, Victoria, came together for the first time at a hub workshop in October.

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