Piping hot marine research delivered to your door

By Matt Marrison

12 December 2018

4 minute read

Reseachers on the ship smiling at the camera and holding up a small creature

Every biodiversity surveys discovers new life in our oceans. Credit Asher Flatt.

Did you order some world-class marine research? On 12 December 2014, our resolute research vessel Investigator was commissioned into service, delivering a flexible blue-water research platform for collaborative marine research in Australia.

Four years and forty voyages on, we‘re serving up four reasons why the marine research we deliver flavours your world.

1) Oceans are the lungs of our planet

Every breath you take, every move you make, the oceans have contributed more than half of your oxygen. In fact, marine photosynthesisers such as phytoplankton, are estimated to produce up to 80% of the world’s oxygen.

The problem is, we don’t fully understand how changes in our oceans are impacting on phytoplankton populations. We know factors like ocean temperature and iron levels are important but we need better data on ocean inputs and dynamics to better understand ocean productivity.

Research we deliver includes study of ocean properties to look at what makes for happy phytoplankton and, as a result, healthy ocean food webs and oxygen production.

2) Fish are helping feed a hungry world

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and he will contribute towards a global fish catch estimated at over 120 million tonnes per year. The global harvest of fish has increased dramatically to meet the demands of growing populations, with recent studies estimating that four million fishing boats ply our oceans.

For effective and sustainable fisheries management, we need to know about the size, distribution and health of fish populations, something that is poorly understood for fisheries globally (but slightly better for Australian waters).

Our research contributes to the better management of fisheries through study of population sizes, changes and movements. This helps inform government and industry to manage fisheries so our increasing demand for fish doesn’t outstrip what our oceans can sustainably supply.

Investigator delivers piping hot marine research from ice edge to equator.

3) Climate change is intimately linked to our oceans

When the winds of change blow, we need to look to our oceans for answers. Our oceans help regulate the global climate by absorbing heat (possibly 90% of heat from global warming) and chemicals such as carbon dioxide.

To understand and predict climate change, we need to understand the interaction between ocean and atmosphere, including how currents move energy and regulate temperature, and how chemicals are absorbed into the ocean.

The research we deliver helps plug gaps in our knowledge by enabling long term ocean monitoring as well as targeted research into complex ocean systems that are poorly understood. The end result, more and better data, leading to better models and better predictions.

4) We don’t know much about what dwells in the deep blue

Imagine if every time you walked out the door you discovered a new species! Well, that’s what happens nearly every time we undertake biodiversity surveys in our oceans. We find new fish new corals, new molluscs, new worms, new algae – you name it, we find it. And then name it!

A good reason to study and understand biodiversity is because it influences productivity. Recent studies have found that diverse fish communities are more productive and resistant to the impacts of climate change. For effective and sustainable management of our marine environment, we first need to know what’s down there.

The data we collect about biodiversity informs policy, industry and future research. A recent report into life found in the Great Australian Bight, including during biodiversity surveys by RV Investigator, found 400 new species. This knowledge is already being used to better inform planning for future development in the region.

We’re the marine research delivery service that never closes! With RV Investigator up and running at full capacity year round, the reasons why the marine research we deliver matters to you will only continue to stack up.