People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


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Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Vertigo3 underwater true-flight glider with application to broadscale crown-of-thorns management in the Great Barrier Reef


Thursday 4th FEBRUARY 13:00 to 14:00 hrs (AEST)

https://jcu.zoom.us/j/87244903610 password: 689105
Brett Kettle & Russell Babcock
Brett Kettle & Russell Babcock

Abstract: Vertigo3 is a new class of small, fast and agile ‘true-flight’ underwater glider, purposely designed for robotic, artificial intelligence-assisted broadscale marine surveys, and capable of operating at speed within topographically complex reefal environments.  In this webinar we touch on the Vertigo3 skillset and focus on preliminary results of its application to managing outbreaks of the coral eating crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) on the Great Barrier Reef.  Vertigo3 tows were performed in July 2020 in the Capricorn Bunker Group of the southern GBR, with imagery used to develop ML tools for COTS detection, geolocation, tracking, counting and size estimation; feeding scar identification; and reef habitat classification.  Whilst the training sets are still limited to four reefs and approximately 200 starfish, Vertigo3 is already demonstrating COTS detections superior to the combined efforts of domain experts reviewing archived footage.  Comparison of glider and manta tows reveals interesting patterns of abundance with implications for future survey methodology.  Preliminary data suggest that the glider is a useful tool that may find application in a wide range of coastal marine use cases.

Biography: Dr Brett Kettle is a marine scientist, inventor of the Vertigo3 glider, and Founder of Vertigo3.org.  His early research included crown of thorns starfish ecology, then a private sector career that included several innovations in coastal marine sciences.  In 2017 Brett began developing more effective tools to replace the 50-year old manta tow method applied to starfish management on the GBR.  A year and several prototypes later this became a collaboration with CSIRO on Vertigo3, its flight control systems and embedded machine learning.

Biography: Dr Russ Babcock is a marine ecologist with CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research. Russ has over 35 years of research experience on coral reefs on the GBR, Western Australia and the Pacific, working closely with agencies and industry and leading multidisciplinary teams to address management needs. He has broad interests including invertebrate reproduction and larval ecology, the effects of coastal development, marine conservation and trophic cascade effects.


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