Impact summary

8 June 2022

Marine and coastal species and ecological communities are protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and various international agreements. Marine and Coastal Hub research in this theme is contributing to the long-term security of these important species and communities by providing biological and ecological knowledge attuned to management needs.

Research in this theme will also respond to the Threatened and migratory species and ecological communities cross-hub strategy led by the Resilient Landscapes Hub. As many of these species and communities are of concern for Indigenous peoples, their protection and monitoring offers opportunities for engagement, training and employment. This may include managing and removing ghost nets, protecting nesting turtles, species monitoring and habitat protection.

Identifying knowledge gaps to guide research

A hub scoping project is documenting the knowledge gaps for marine and coastal threatened and migratory species and communities. This will help to guide the planning and prioritisation of future research to meet the needs of research users, such as population assessments and on- ground actions that aim to protect species and their habitats.

Zooming in on Southern Right Whales

The Endangered Southern Right Whale is slowly recovering from near-extinction in the 1970s. Abundance estimates, population trends and reproductive details for the western population are the focus of Hub research as this is needed as a priority to implement the species’ Conservation Management Plan. Hub researchers are also evaluating how expanding whale populations use south-western aggregation areas. They are examining photographs from a decade of aerial surveys in Geographe Bay and Flinders Bay for evidence of female site fidelity and the historical importance of these areas as calving grounds.

Dwarf Sawfish like staying close to home

Sawfishes are one of the most globally endangered group of vertebrates. Four of the five species occur in Australian waters where their populations are relatively healthy. The distribution of habitat requirements of adults and larger sub-adults, however, is poorly understood. Hub researchers are testing satellite telemetry to track the movement and dispersal in large sub-adult and adult sawfishes. Preliminary results suggest that Dwarf Sawfish, Pristis clavata, spend considerable time in very shallow waters and have a very high degree of site fidelity.

A lifeline for the Maugean Skate

The Endangered Maugean Skate has been known to inhabit only two Tasmanian estuaries: Bathurst and Macquarie harbours. It has not been recorded in surveys of Bathurst Harbour, however, for some 30 years. The hub is compiling detailed advice for the Commonwealth and Tasmanian governments on the status of the Maugean Skate in Bathurst Harbour. This is essential to managing the remaining Macquarie Harbour population. Researchers are conducting extensive surveys in Bathurst Harbour using underwater video and eDNA sampling.