Seafloor secrets from northern Tasmania

29 June 2011


High resolution bathymetric image of reef offshore Cape Barren Island (water depth 12-20 metres)

High resolution bathymetric image
of reef offshore Cape Barren
Island (water depth 12-20 metres)
© Geoscience Australia

Scientists have recently returned from studying the seafloor off the coast of northern Tasmania where they mapped the seafloor and acquired underwater video of previously unmapped areas of granite reef located in coastal and inner shelf waters of northeast Tasmania.

Initial findings from the survey led to the discovery of these granite reefs in the near shore waters of Cape Barren Island (part of the Furneaux Group) and narrow rock ledges on the outer shelf within the Flinders Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR). These offshore reefs support a variety of biota including kelp in shallow water and sponge gardens on the shelf reefs. At the edge of the continental shelf, the survey was also able to map two submarine canyons in detail for the first time.

The marine survey on board RV Challenger was co-led by Dr Scott Nichol from Geoscience Australia and Dr Neville Barrett from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania, and was one of the last surveys undertaken as part of the Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities (CERF) Marine Biodiversity Hub.

The survey was a co-funded collaboration between Geoscience Australia and the University of Tasmania, with additional support from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities under the CERF program. Geoscience Australia and IMAS will continue their collaborative marine research as partners in the new National Environmental Research Program Marine Biodiversity Hub.

Topic contact: media@ga.gov.au Last updated: October 4, 2013