Preparing for an Expedition During COVID19

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, AusOcean remains committed to moving forward and expanding operationally as safely as possible. Although we have had to curtail our school program and working with external partners, we are still operating at full steam developing new tech and deploying it at selected locations. We continue to engage with our external partners and the wider community via our online platforms.

We have an innovative underwater audio experiment running at Windara Reef in collaboration with The University of Adelaide, which we've recently replicated at Ochre Point on the Adelaide metropolitan coastline. We have also upgraded our sea surface platform or 'rig' at Carrickalinga with a new rig and low-cost live streaming underwater camera. This rig was built by students from Yankalilla Area School and Immanuel College as part of our school program 'Network Blue'.

AusOcean has spent significant time on Kangaroo Island conducting marine life surveys while testing new and exciting tech. In addition to our ongoing surveying, it is our aim to expand Network Blue into Kangaroo Island Community Education, however, due to current social distancing rules this is no longer feasible at the current time. Nonetheless, we remain committed to our work on Kangaroo Island and in particular, Smith Bay on the north coast.

The AusOcean crew is planning a week long expedition back to KI to install a live streaming underwater camera at 'Granny Smith' a large temperate coral we discovered on expedition last year. To our knowledge, this will be the world's first live streaming temperate coral cam. This coral species is particularly unique as it belongs to the only coral genus capable of growing massive - this specimen is 6m in circumference and almost 2m tall. Many of these specimens which would have once existed in abundance in the gulfs around South Australia have been damaged and in many cases destroyed - due to prawn trawling from the 1960's onward. Our goal is to showcase the beauty and marvel of rare temperate corals to the world.

We will be entirely self-contained on Arriba (a private vessel) with no need to go ashore. We realise that travel to KI may be controversial (in view of the online petition), yet we view our ongoing work there as essential and we will take all precautions to avoid contact with Islanders. We have an emergency response plan in place which we will abide by, if any member of the crew develops coronavirus symptoms while on board.

The entire AusOcean team has been abiding by the social distancing rules and are currently practising self-isolation from others, although not among ourselves. That means we can continue to work together in close quarters, such as on vessels, with a degree of confidence. Our workshop has been moved to Willunga where we now now operate out of a 250-acre farm property. It will continue to serve as our base station for the foreseeable future. It is our absolute priority to continue to self isolate throughout the week leading up to our departure to limit the risk of contraction and prevent the possible spread of the virus to each other post departure.

We understand this is a stressful time for all and will continue to take all necessary precautions to ensure not only the safety and well being of ourselves but the wider community.

Follow us on InstagramFacebook or Twitter for more photos, videos and stories.