marine science

The life of an Argo Float

By Bethany

Back in June of 2013, I sailed across the Great Australian Bight (the area of ocean below Australia) on the RV Southern Surveyor. One cold and windy night, myself and several other scientists scrambled out onto the deck with an expensive, large, yellow, plastic float. We threw released it over the side of the boat and watched it as it disappeared into the night.

Continue reading “The life of an Argo Float”

Five foraminifers that look like celebrities

By K. Holland

Everyone knows the importance of foraminifers transcends science. We’ve searched from the sea floor to the photic zone to bring you these calcifers that have an uncanny resemblance to your favourite Aussie stars. You’ll have to sea them to believe it!

Continue reading “Five foraminifers that look like celebrities”

Meet the scientists…Who? Me?

One very good scientist and four dressing the part

By Kelly

Just recently I was given a healthy reminder that some stereotypes are really hard to break. I am very open about the fact that I was always interested in science, however when I hit 16 I was more interested in being cool. Unfortunately I had no role models that were cool scientists which led me to make some decisions that would lead me away from science* for over a decade**. And so during my time at the Research School of Earth Sciences I have gladly been involved with the university’s Equity and Diversity Unit, that most recently included participating in their ‘Who are scientists?’ workshop that was held for 14 year olds from regional school along the coast.

The 8 representative ‘scientists’ were jumbled in with other staff from our coastal campus, and when singled out the 120 kids were asked to stand if they thought that person was a scientist. Of 120, guess how many stood for me……

Continue reading “Meet the scientists…Who? Me?”

The Great Barrier Reef faces destruction

reefBy Bianca (guest blogger)

Australia’s new prime minister has given the green light for mining companies to destroy Australia’s natural wonder and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 2300 km along the coast of Queensland and is home to around a quarter of all species that can be found in the world’s oceans. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981 the reef recently faces one of its hardest battles: a changing climate.

Sediment and algal overgrowth have overtaken this once-healthy reef. (Courtesy Emre Turak/Australian Institute of Marine Science)
Sediment and algal overgrowth have overtaken this once-healthy reef. (Courtesy Emre Turak/Australian Institute of Marine Science)

Rising ocean acidity due to high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and increasing water temperatures damages the corals; floods and storms flush mud, pesticides and fertilizers from farmland into the ocean and mining companies pollute the reef by dumping silt into the ocean and letting their freighters pass through. Continue reading “The Great Barrier Reef faces destruction”

Tinker Tailor Soldier Scientist

By Aimée

AbstractThe human brain is the only instrument that can examine itself scientifically. Here, I present qualitative data on the age-old problem of ‘what to do?’ derived from self-reflection. Findings include that the world is indeed a giant oyster, and agitators create pearls.


I’m a couple weeks shy of the 3-year PhD mark and I find myself in a position similar to one I was in 10 years ago: finishing high school and wondering what I should do with my life. It was easy then – take (almost) a year off and then reconvene. It’s quite funny how I could literally go anywhere post-PhD. Academia, public service, NGOs, even banking (yes, in a previous life I was a banker).

There are so many perks to doing a PhD in earth sciences (local & international conferences, amazing field trips, fascinating & RELEVANT research, supercool facilities…). And the opportunities are endless (so they say). One thing I’ve found though, is that like most fields, it’s so easy to live inside a bubble – the world revolves around the big names in academia and that’s whom we seek to emulate. It’s about where you’ll do your postdoc and not if you do it, because somehow leaving academia is somewhat of a betrayal. The mentors we have (if any) are from the same side of the story – accomplished academics. Academia, publishing, research is all that is in front of us and our paths seem clear cut and eerily pre-destined. “Of course you have to do a postdoc, how else will the world take you seriously as a scientist?” It feels like trying to get to the horizon – you have to go a little bit further each time. Continue reading “Tinker Tailor Soldier Scientist”

Investigating the Investigator

By Kelly


One of the major draw cards for the Earth Sciences comes from the tantalizing prospect of field work. And for marine scientists, this couldn’t be more exciting than when field work involves a trip on a research vessel; an excursion we affectionately call going on a “cruise”*. I have not had the pleasure of sailing onboard Australia’s RV Southern Surveyor and opportunity is fading fast with the Research Vessel’s imminent decommissioning.

Instead, the Australian marine science community will set forth into our watery future aboard the RV Investigator, which in similar fashion to its namesake will be able to circumnavigate our great continent, survive battering by fierce storms and  potentially be required to serve for ~70 years. But it’s not the capabilities that the two Investigators share that have the oceanographers amongst us all aquiver, but the technological modifications that ???????????????????????????????distinguish them. Not least the fact it has its very own blog, there is also talk of winged keels, dual polarisation weather radar and ‘work’ boats straight from the set of Baywatch (okay so they are orange, other than that they have nothing in common with Baywatch).
Continue reading “Investigating the Investigator”

When jellyfish attack, or atleast swarm


By Kelly

Along with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch if you are a marine conservationist you have undoubtably heard of the alarming rate with which enormous swarms of jellyfish are threatening to take over a oceans. A consequence of climate change? Evidence that our oceans are becoming wastelands, fit for no other life than that of the gelatinous? Or worse…an urban myth?

A recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (or PNAS, pronounced PeeNAS) highlighted that this notion is based on a few scattered reports rather than a thorough synthesis of jellyfish population metrics. Using data ranging from 1790 to 2011 Condon et al claim that while a strong 20-year oscillation is apparent, there is yet sufficient proof that a significant upward trend in jellyfish populations has occurred.  Continue reading “When jellyfish attack, or atleast swarm”

Slurping slimey fish!

By Evan

This week’s interesting science news story comes deep from the sea. A 14 year old Ukrainian boy with an interest in marine science was looking at a live streaming video from an undersea camera, and saw a frightful sight – a snout showed up and slurped up the fish he was watching! The video is below:

Continue reading “Slurping slimey fish!”

And for the cnidaria lovers out there

By Kelly

I know I’m not the only lover of Cnidaria out there. And if you are not already enamoured by animals with specialised stinging cells to capture their prey then you will be after this. I watched this on another fabulous blog: Science-Based Life and felt I had to share. More mesmerizing than a lava lamp, and that is saying something.

Cnidarian Lifeforms from Delrious on Vimeo.

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