Tasmania (Barrett, Lucier - TAFI; Johnson, Ling - UTAS) The primary objective of this work was to describe biological assemblages associated with rocky reef systems in deep shelf waters on the Tasman Peninsula in SE Tasmania and in the Huon, Freycinet and Bruny Island Marine Protected Areas (MPA), providing a record of community composition at or near the time of designation of these MPAs. Detailed multibeam sonar bathymetry data were previously collected by Geoscience Australia (GA) to provide high-resolution digital elevation maps of the study areas. These maps were used to determine suitable AUV survey locations. At each location, multiple reefs were surveyed at a range of depths from approximately 50 m to 100 m depth. Dive profiles were designed to provide sufficient replication to quantitatively determine abundances of key species/features within depth strata, within reefs, between reefs (km to 100 km scale), and between differing levels of reef complexity. The AUV deployments were part of a multi-disciplinary experimental program to analyse the covariance of co-located fine-resolution seabed habitat data, provided by the EM3002 multibeam sonar coverage, and biological datasets collected at similar spatial scales by Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), Baited Remote Underwater Video systems, towed video and the AUV. This program was undertaken with UTAS and GA as part of the Marine Biodiversity Research Hub, a collaborative program funded under the Commonwealth Government's Commonwealth Environmental Research Facilities Program. In addition, the AUV completed high resolution, full seafloor coverage day and night dives at St Helens in the North East to document nocturnal feeding habits of the sea urchin Centrostephanus rodgersii whose poleward extension has had a significant impact on kelp beds in the North East of Tasmania.

Tasmania 03/2009
Scallop fisheries at Maria Island, Freycinet MPA; 9 dives over 5 days of operations; this trip ended prematurely with the grounding of the R/V Challenger. A shackle securing the anchor to the anchor chain gave way and the ship blew onto rocks, destroying the Ultra-Short Baseline (USBL) transceiver affixed to the ship that is used to track the AUV while it is underway. This equipment was replaced using funding from the University of Sydney and a claim has been lodged with the University of Tasmania to recover the costs as the ship was being operated by TAFI. A planned deployment in SA with SARDI was rescheduled as a consequence of this incident and we are looking into the availability of ship time to complete the proposed SA deployments.

General Information