Although a topic of critical importance, Marine Biology seems to be one of the most difficult fields to find opportunities either during or after study. Australia has a plethora of excellent universities offering variations of this fascinating course for local students and those from abroad. Institutions such as James Cook University, University of Sydney and The University of Queensland have a number of partner research stations off the coast that conduct impressive work which assists the ocean ecosystem around the country. Highlighted below are some of the more impressive projects being conducted by current students and staff.
Heron Island Research Station
A tiny island situated in the southern Great Barrier Reef, Heron Island is home to the University of Queensland’s world class coral research station. A marine paradise where tiger sharks, turtles and rays frequent the warm waters, researchers and biologists study climate change on the precious reef. Dry and wet laboratories as well as computer rooms, aquariums and a large animal holding tank allow unprecedented access to the ocean environment. The island is a nesting ground for the green and loggerhead turtles, and during February nights the tiny hatchlings emerge and make their way into the sea. Constructed in 1951, the research station is utilised by film crews, scientists and other parties that wish to assist and document the reef ecosystem.
Minke Whale Project MWP
Based at James Cook University in northern Queensland, the Minke Whale project conducts multi-disciplinary research into the dwarf Minke populations that frequent the east coast throughout the year. Scientists will evaluate not only the biology of the whales, but in turn the way humans and whales can both benefit in a sustainable way through eco tourism. Many ‘swimming with whale’ companies work with the project gaining valuable insight into the behaviour of the animals as well as donating funds in support to the continued research of the MWP.
Orpheus Island Research Station
On a Great Barrier Reef island that is home to over 1400 species, 3000 giant clams and only 60 people, James Cook marine biology students have an unparalleled opportunity to study the pristine coral reefs and eucalypt forests through state-of-the-art laboratories. Facilities include larval and algal research stations as well as dry labs for analysis of microscopic specimens. The island is open for not only university students but in turn high schoolers who can snorkel among the giant clams and turtles – hopefully enforcing a passion for years to come.
One Tree Island Research Station
A small coral cay off the coast of Queensland, One Tree Island is home to a large number of protected species as well as being famed for being an important nesting area for boobies. Only 5.5km by 3.5km in size, the island’s research station accommodated up to 20 scientists who conduct study’s on the impact of humans on the barrier reef as well as the reef and cays environment which changes due to natural factors such as tides, changes in the food chain and run off from heavy rains. The university of Sydney have run research here since 1965 amassing an impressive bibliography of over 300 titles. Dry and wet labs as well as a stocked diving store allow scientists to access two wrecks close to shore and monitor the growing reef that has begun to cling to the man made structures.