Summary

The Victorian IMOS (VIC-IMOS) node represents the scientific opinion and interests of the Victorian marine research community, and provides advice and scientific rationale for IMOS.

The region's marine environment is positioned on the eastward extent of Australia’s unique southern coast. Isolated for some 65 million years, the high species richness and diversity is influenced by the resulting endemic element as well as the confluence of ocean currents. The repeated submergence and emergence of Bass Strait has strongly shaped the present-day composition and distribution of species, geomorphology and oceanography.

The region is oceanographically complex with subtropical influences from the north and subpolar influences from the south. The eastern parts of the region are strongly influenced by the East Australian Current (EAC) carrying warm equatorial waters and recent range expansion of species such as the black urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersii) impacting biodiversity and fisheries values.

Seasonal and transient upwellings are important ecological features of the region. The Bonney upwelling, a strong seasonal upwelling in the shelf waters between Cape Jaffa and Cape Otway supports one of the most productive marine regions in Australian coastal waters including large populations of Blue and Southern Right whales, Australian fur seals, sharks, and southern blue-fin tuna, together with important State and Commonwealth fisheries, and a growing charter and recreational fishing industry.

At the shelf break east of Bass Strait, nutrient-rich waters rise to the surface in winter as part of the processes of the Bass Strait Water Cascade, where the eastward flushing of the shallow waters of the strait over the continental shelf mix with cooler, deeper nutrient-rich waters. The southern coast of Australia  is shaped by the influence of waves and the VIC-IMOS regions harbours unique variability in wave climate from high exposed regions to wind and wave environment generated in the Southern Ocean and western reaches of Bass Strait, shadowing of wave Tasmania and Bass Strait Islands and exposure to east coast lows in the east.

The region is of high ecological and economic importance to South Australia and Victoria, with shared significance to both the SAIMOS and VIC-IMOS nodes.

With node leadership from Deakin University, University of Melbourne and Monash University, Vic-IMOS is working closely across the academic, government and industry sector to answer Victoria’s marine science questions using new and existing IMOS data streams.