The AusOcean crew has spent significant time on Kangaroo Island conducting marine life surveys while testing new and exciting tech. Over the past few summers we have undertaken 4 expeditions exploring the north coast. Despite the current circumstances, AusOcean remains committed to our work on Kangaroo Island and in particular, Smith Bay on the north coast.
Smith Bay and indeed, the entire north coast of Kangaroo Island forms part of the wider Great Southern Reef (GSR) spanning the entire southern coastline of the Australian continent. The GSR is one of the most pristine and unique temperate reefs in the world and has been recognised as Mission Blue's newest hope spot in recognition of the reefs exquisite, raw beauty and immensely rich biodiversity. KI is unique in that it sits at the confluence of two oceanographic systems providing unique habitat that supports an abundance of marine species, many of which have high conservation value. From Leafy sea dragons, to pods of 100 dolphins and large coral colonies that have existed for hundreds of years, KI has provided an important refuge for many vulnerable species whose numbers have declined significantly elsewhere.
Our marine life surveys show that Smith Bay's environment exhibits high species richness and endemism supporting an abundance of emblematic species with high conservation value. This is due in part to the presence of highly diverse and complex habitat supporting a myriad of species including fishes, sponges, bryozoans, echinoderms and molluscs. Over the course of our surveys, 60 species of fish and 35 species of invertebrates were noted within surveys, comprising 1778 individuals (1460 fish and 318 invertebrates) an additional 11 species of fish and 9 species of invertebrates were sited outside surveyed transects. Of these, five species noted belonging to the Syngnathidae (seahorses, pipefishes and seadragons) are protected under the Australian Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act (1999). The pristine marine environment of KI is unlike anything we’ve seen. Each time we return we discover something more beautiful and wondrous.
We are currently preparing for a week long sailing expedition back to the island. This time, to deploy a sea-surface platform or "rig"' and underwater camera in Smith Bay. We are also partnering with Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbour dolphin watch to deploy acoustic sensors just in time for the annual Southern Right Whale migration occurring in May-October. Follow our expedition on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to enjoy more photos, videos and stories.
Read our blog on how we are safely preparing for an expedition during COVID19.