Re­searchers share notes on Nin­ga­loo

Pilbara News - - News - Louise Alling­ham

BHP Bil­li­ton and the CSIRO are one year into their part­ner­ship for the Nin­ga­loo Out­look re­search pro­ject, which aims to bet­ter un­der­stand the area’s ecosys­tems.

The pro­gram has been given $5 mil­lion to con­duct re­search over the course of five years.

CSIRO se­nior re­search sci­en­tist Mat Van­derk­lift said the part­ner­ship had com­mon as­pi­ra­tions.

“We re­alised that we have some joint in­ter­ests in sus­tain­abil­ity and in­creas­ing the com­mu­nity’s un­der­stand­ing of the val­ues of the Nin­ga­loo and what sci­ence can con­trib­ute, so we de­vel­oped a plan to­gether,” he said.

BHP Bil­li­ton en­vi­ron­men­tal su­per­vi­sor Tim Cooper said the pro­ject would be di­vided into three themes — deep reef, shal­low reef and tag­ging tur­tles and sharks.

The deep reef re­search will look into un­der­stand­ing im­pacts, pat­terns and pro­cesses of the deep-wa­ter co­ral reefs, which are in­ac­ces­si­ble to divers. The se­cond theme will as­sess the re­la­tion­ship be­tween habi­tat com­mu­ni­ties — such as co­rals, sea grasses and al­gae — and fish in shal­low reefs.

Dr Van­derk­lift will lead the tag­ging of tur­tles and sharks.

“We’ve got dif­fer­ent types of tags … so there’s satel­lite tags, and there’s acous­tic tags and we use those to iden­tify where the an­i­mals are spend­ing their time so that we can iden­tify what are the re­ally im­por­tant habi­tats,” he said.

Nin­ga­loo Out­look has a num­ber of ex­pected out­comes by the end of the five years. “En­gag­ing the lo­cal com­mu­nity is one of them,” Dr Van­derk­lift said.

“More broadly is im­prov­ing our un­der­stand­ing of the ecol­ogy of the Nin­ga­loo … the fi­nal out­come will be pro­vid­ing knowl­edge and trans­fer­ring knowl­edge to pro­vide or en­hance con­ser­va­tion and man­age­ment out­comes for the marine park man­agers them­selves.”

A sym­po­sium was held last Fri­day, where re­searchers pre­sented their find­ings to date.

CSIRO’s Mat Van­derk­lift.

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