Orpheus Island Research Station – The ‘classroom’ on the Great Barrier Reef

Orpheus Island is situated on the Great Barrier Reef, between Townsville and Cairns.  The Research Station is fringed by pristine inshore reefs and islands.

Video courtesy of Richard Davis, JCU Media.


We can fix the Great Barrier Reef

Terry Hughes, ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies Director raises awareness of the untapped opportunities to incorporate science into better policy to ensure we still have a magnificent Great Barrier Reef in the future. In a paper ‘Securing the future of the Great Barrier ReefNature Climate Change by Terry P. Hughes, Jon C Day and Jon Brodie,  the authors argue that all the stressors on the Reef need to be reduced for it to recover.


Oropesa Reef, Great Barrier Reef


Oropesa Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia from Ed Roberts on Vimeo.

Very little, if anything, is known about submerged reefs on the GBR.  A Coral CoE led survey went below the surface to assess what lives on some of these reefs.  Ed Roberts recorded this video on a reef ridge at Oropesa Reef near Cairns at a depth of between 10-12 metres below sea level.

Video courtesy of Ed Roberts, January 2015.


 Dr Jodie Rummer – TEDx JCU Cairns: Athletes of the Great Barrier Reef

Dr Jodie Rummer personally believes that athleticism is about the science; she is a physiologist but the athletes that she is most curious about are fish.


Professor Morgan Pratchett discusses his research on the Great Barrier Reef fisheries

Professor Morgan Pratchett talks about conducting research in Queensland on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef, the largest and most pristine coral environment in the world.

Queensland Science video – QLD Government 2014

3 Minute Thesis winner Mary Bonin – Nemo returns home because there is nowhere else to go


It’s important that anemone fish leave home after hatching, but it turns out some juvenile fish on the Great Barrier Reef are returning… they have no where else to go.


3 Minute Thesis finalist Georgina Gurney – Marine protected areas: how do they affect people

GeorginaGurney link photo

Marine protected areas can be found throughout  the world  and in the future they are likely to increase in number.  But how do they affect the millions of people who live in and use these areas?


3 Minute Thesis finalist Hugo Harrison – Keep calm and keep swimming

hugo link photo

When baby fish hatch, they must spend weeks in open water before they can settle on a coral reef.  Some come home, while others embark on epic voyages. This is the story of one such voyage.


Researchers discover hidden coral reefs of Queensland

Submerged Reefs-4.jpgFor the first time, Queensland researchers are venturing into the depth of the oceans to discover new coral reefs.

ABC News, 25 February 2015


Great Barrier Reef Coral Trout 

P. leopardus_Border Is_2[1]Despite increasing pressures form fishing and greater stresses on the Great Barrier Reef, coral trout fish numbers have increased by 50% since the 1980s.  So what’s the secret?

ABC Catalyst program, Thursday 20 November 2014


Sheltering habits help sharks adapt to acid oceans

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAResearchers have found that the epaulette shark, a species that shelters within reefs and copes with low oxygen levels, is able to tolerate increased carbon dioxide in the water without any obvious physical impact.

ABC News coverage 16 September 2014

ABC Behind the News – Marine Science

ATSIMSAboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science (ATSIMS) initiative where Indigenous high school students prepare for careers in marine science.
View the ATSIMS video of the excursion


Bommies Award Winner for 2013 – Kirsty Nash

ParrotfishFor the 2013 Bommies Award 12 eligible videos were received from a group of talented reef scientists.

This year’s winner Ms Kirsty Nash is a researcher at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. Ms Nash’s entry was titled ‘BIG FISH, small fish: How will Climate Change affect Reef Fish?’

Researchers say jumping snails are under threat

P1010034 WatsonMarine scientists say a unique species of jumping snails on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland is becoming more vulnerable because of climate change.
ABC News coverage 14  January 2014

Game of Thorns could wreak reef havoc

crown of thornsScientists fear the Great Barrier Reef is about to be hit by the most damaging outbreak of Crown of Thorns starfish on record.


Coral Reefs in the 21st Century Symposium

symposium-banner-2013WIN News coverage, 10 October 2013


Acid Ocean

Paddletail snapper 2Marine scientists across the world are racing to tackle the most urgent environmental challenge facing our planet today – ocean acidification. From the icy polar seas to the world’s most pristine coral reefs we track the latest scientific research. Heading the investigation is Dr Katharina Fabricius from the Australian Institute of Marine Science. She’s made a game-changing discovery.  Nestled amongst Papua New Guinea’s stunning coral gardens is a unique reef where volcanic CO2 bubbles from the core of the earth – a window to the future of our oceans.  Amongst her team are ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies researchers Prof. Philip Munday and Dr. Jodie Rummer.  Together, they hope to understand current adaptations marine life may have to live amongst elevated CO2 and what we might expect for our future ocean life.

Are fish good athletes?

Image 1croppedThe comparative athleticism of fish probably isn’t a thought that crosses many people’s minds. For Sandra Binning and Dominique Roche, its more than just a thought – they’ve built swim tunnels to test fishes’ fitness. The husband and wife duo, from the ANU Research School of Biology and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, work on exercise physiology in coral reef fish. The results may help determine if these fish are destined to survive in a climate that is predicted to deliver more intense, frequent storms.

Allan Sefton Memorial Lecture

Guest lecturer Professor Terry Hughes speaks about securing a future for the Great Barrier Reef at the University of Wollongong, 9 April 2013.

The Reef is suffering death by a 1000 cuts. Population growth, transformation of land use in the Barrier Reef catchment, increase in sugar cane cultivation, expansion in coal mining and increased fishing have all negatively impacted the Reef.

Park Authority has almost no capacity to influence two major drivers of change and itís time to rethink how the Great Barrier Reef should be governed for the future!

The Accelerating Universe – Professor Brian Schmidt

NOBEL PRIZE BRIAN SCHMIDT FILEThe 2011 Nobel Laureate for Physics, Brian Schmidt, leader of the High-Redshift Supernova Search Team, will describe this discovery and explain how astronomers have used observations to trace our universe’s history back more than 13 billion years, leading them to ponder the ultimate fate of the cosmos.

Science Behind the Headlines: Marine Parks and ‘No-Take’ Zones

Lizard-islandJust what is the science underpinning marine parks and are we being duped by the media into a false debate? RiAus Director and moderator Paul Willis   discusses marine parks with media representatives and experts: Joseph Milton – Media Officer at the Australian Science Media Centre, Tory Shepherd – Writer/Editor at, Peter Fairweather – Professor Marine Ecology, Flinders University, David Williamson – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies.

China’s coral reefs disappearing, says study 

reefbuildersScientists from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology conducted a survey of mainland China and South China Sea reefs, and published it in the latest edition of Conservation Biology. The authors painted a “grim picture of decline, degradation and destruction” from coastal development, pollution, and overfishing. Read more

David Bellwood: Lessons from coral reefs

David BellwoodDavid Bellwood, a marine biologist and an internationally recognized expert in coral reef fishes and systems, combines skills in such disparate fields as ecology, palaeontology, biomechanics and molecular systems to understand the nature of reefs. “The argument would be that if you’ve got a reef with a thousand species, it is a lot more resilient, and a lot more capable of maintaining itself than a reef with a hundred species. I don’t think that is true.”

Fish and people: promo

Fish and People is a 50-minute production divided into educational modules explaining the ‘stock-recruitment relationship’ in an easily accessible manner and with a carefully crafted portfolio of explanatory graphics and natural history photography.

Fish and people: module 1

Fish and People deals with species that are of economic (and ecological) importance and thus immediately familiar to a Pacific audience. It is tailored for middle and upper high school students and is accompanied by a comprehensive teacher’s guide. Fish and People was funded by the Australian Research Council and Telekom Television (Solomon Islands).

Fish and people: module 2

Fish and People has been scripted by Simon Foale and Russell Kelley, and assembled and edited by multi-award-winning media professionals at Digital Dimensions and Eco Media Production Group. A second version, designed for viewing by the wider community throughout the Solomon Islands and beyond, is in production.

Fish and people: module 3

Fish and people’s approach to the impending fisheries management crisis in the Pacific with a high-school level learning tool is to educate the young adults of the importance of fisheries management. More importantly, their role in their community in managing fisheries and  food security.

Fish and people: module 4

We believe if a critical mass of young adults acquire a clear understanding of how overfishing destroys fisheries and food security, they will not only innovate their own, ‘bottom-up’ fisheries management strategies as they assume positions of influence within the community, but they will also be more likely to understand the need for, and therefore comply with, ‘top-down’ management approaches such as size limits, gear restrictions, quotas and moratoria.

Fish and people: module 5

A research paper that outlines in detail the justification for producing Fish and People is here: Foale S., Cohen P., Januchowski S., Wenger A., Macintyre M. (2011) Tenure and taboos: origins and implications for fisheries in the Pacific. Fish and Fisheries 12, 357-369.

Some partly thought out ideas on engagement for conservation, Bob Pressey

My objective in giving the seminar is, through organization of thoughts and discussion with the audience, to move toward a better understanding of how to engage with managers and policy makers. So come along in the spirit of discussion, but not to learn the answers.Read more.

Can we find coral reef management solutions that work for people and nature? Tim McClanahan

The talk explores some of challenges for the management coral reefs when science is applied in poor developing countries. Research preferences of coral reef scholars and management preferences of fishers are examined and evaluated for their value in providing solutions that address contemporary social-ecological and governance processes.

Coral winners – ABC TV catalyst

Catch the special episode on ‘Catalyst’ featuring the ARC Centre of Excellence’s director, Professor Terry Hughes, on ABC 1 Thursday 30 August 2012.


Sea life facing major shock

Life in the world’s oceans faces far greater change and risk of large-scale extinctions than at any previous time in human history, a team of the world’s leading marine scientists has warned. John Pandolfi of the University of Queensland crosses to the desk to explain why the world’s oceans are more threatened than ever right now. Read more

Can coral reefs survive the 21st century?

Recorded during the recent 2012 International Coral Reef Symposium, a panel of leading experts and practitioners met in Cairns to debate the issues facing coral reefs in front of an informed audience. The one-hour episode is  available online at

The environment quarter – coverage of the 12th ICRS, Cairns

On tonight’s episode of The Environment Quarter, we check in with the scientists attending the International Coral Reef Symposium.


Marine scientists gather for coral reef talks

Scientists from more than 80 countries are in Cairns in far north Queensland for the International Coral Reef Symposium It’s the first time the event has been held in Australia in more than 40 years. Scientists there have tabled a united statement urging governments around the world to do more to protect marine environments. The ABC’s environment reporter, Conor Duffy reports from Cairns.

Scientists find a quicker way to help coral reefs

The elusive culprits that are killing countless coral reefs around the world can now be nabbed with technology normally used to diagnose human diseases, marine researchers say.


Kirsty Nash: My thesis in 3 minutes finalist 2011

Kirsty recently began a PhD looking at the scales at which fish are functioning on the reef and how this contributes to resilience. Kirsty is supervised by Nick Graham and David Bellwood.


Talk by Prof. Terry Hughes At Wageningen University

Professor Terry Hughes is the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, headquartered at James Cook University. Terry was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2001 in recognition of “a career which has significantly advanced the world’s store of scientific knowledge”. He is ranked #1 in the world for citations in coral reef science, and in 2008, he was awarded the prestigious Darwin Medal by the International Society for Reef Studies.

World-first discovery ‘can help save coral reefs’

An international team of scientists has achieved a major breakthrough in fishing sustainability on coral reefs which could play a vital role in preventing their collapse.


Batfish to the rescue

batfishA masked marauder has emerged unexpectedly from the ocean to rescue a dying coral reef from destruction in the nick of time. With the dramatic flair of comic-book superhero Batman, a batfish has saved a coral reef that was being choked to death by seaweed – although the fish was never previously known as a weed-eater. Read more

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