Australian Festival of Chamber Music
THE VIRGINIA CHADWICK MEMORIAL REEF TALK SERIES
Presentation 1: Dr Alvaro Berg Soto
How to protect rare species of inshore dolphins in the Great Barrier Reef? – protecting some of Australia’s rarest marine mammals.
Abstract: Commercial fishers and fisheries managers assume that the bycatch of inshore dolphins and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is not important because the number of bycatch mortalities reported each year is low. However, the populations of snubfin and humpback dolphins are so small and fragmented that any anthropogenic mortality is likely to lead to population declines, even though the power to detect such declines in a management timeframe is weak. To avoid local extirpation of these marine mammals (which are listed nationally as a ‘Matter of National Environmental Significance’), an experimental approach was used to evaluate two management approaches to mitigate bycatch: pingers (acoustic alarms) and passive acoustic monitoring. The likely effectiveness of both methods was rated as low. The legitimacy of a range of bycatch mitigation measures was discussed with fishers via semi-structured interviews. An approach to this problem is proposed by which the highest priority is to secure population ‘hotspots’ using Green Zones while in the remainder of the dolphins’ extents of occurrence, bycatch is minimized by working with fishers to develop the most cost effective solutions.
Alvaro was born in Chile and became a scholarship student at the American campus of United World Colleges. He continued his studies at the University of Kansas and then taught science for a year at a bi-lingual school in Chile before moving to Australia to do his PhD at James Cook University. Alvaro was awarded his PhD in 2012 based on his research focusing on local dolphins, their behaviour, acoustics and management.
Presentation 2: Dr Thomas Bridge
The deeper we go, the less we know: Exploring Queensland’s deep-water coral reefs.
Abstract: Coral reefs are the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet. Traditionally, the vast majority of research on coral reefs is conducted in easily-accessible shallow-water habitats. However, these areas occupy only 7% of the 344 000 km2 Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Recent advances in SCUBA diving technology and robotics have allowed scientists unprecedented access to these deeper reef communities, and revealed vast, diverse and virtually unexplored ecosystems living in the deep waters of the Great Barrier Reef. My research focuses documenting the biodiversity of deep-water coral reefs, and assessing whether these systems can play a role in mitigating the impacts of climate change on coral reef biodiversity. Here, I will provide an overview of how we go about exploring these deep-water reefs, and what we have discovered so far about these unique ecosystems.
Tom completed his Honours degree in Marine Science at the University of Sydney. After spending time travelling and working in the diving industry, Tom moved to Townsville in 2007 to begin his PhD. For the last 6 years he has conducted extensive field work on deep-water coral reefs, primarily on the Great Barrier Reef, the Coral Sea and Indonesia. After completing his PhD in 2011, Tom has continued his research at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.