10 March 2006

New species found on Barrier Reef

Scientists have found new species of fish and other sea life as part of a landmark survey of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef Seabed Biodiversity Project, conducted last year, covered 210,000sq km of the continental shelf from Fraser Island to Cape York.

Project leader Dr Roland Pitcher of CSIRO Marine today said a survey on such a scale had never been carried out before.

Data collected by survey vessels Lady Basten and Gwendoline May in several voyages over 325 days included more than 2000 hours of video footage by a remote-controlled camera.

About 15,000 plant and animal samples were collected using a small sled pulled along the seabed.

Dr Pitcher said one more voyage was planned before the end of the year to complete the mapping of seafloor life and marine habitats up to 100m deep.

The information would be analysed over the next two years, Dr Pitcher said.

These will likely include confirmation that many species on the east coast were related to species off northern Western Australia and in the waters of some Asian countries.

There would be some brand new sea creatures unique to the Great Barrier Reef such as the pipehorse – which resembles a snake-like seahorse, as well as a crab and lace-like corals.

"We think around one-third of the species that have been found might be new because these species had not been studied before," Dr Pitcher said.

The survey will help the federally funded Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), which manages the park, to plan how the reef can be better monitored and used, and how state authorities can best manage trawl fishing.

"It's very important to have maps of where things are and what they are, what's there and where is it, so you can think about all these planning activities in the same way that we think about them on land," Dr Pitcher said.

Source: www.theaustralian.news.com.au


At 6:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW great job!


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