Southern Australia’s coastline spans approximately 8,000 km (including islands) and varies from cliffs, rocky shores, and sandy beaches in the South-East and West Coast, to mud flats and mangrove habitats in the upper Gulf St Vincent and Spencer Gulf. Over 100 estuaries, which are significant breeding and nursery habitats for a broad range of species, are also found across the region.
The region’s waters are internationally acknowledged for their unique diversity, with a high level of endemism. It hosts the largest temperate “carbonate factory” in the world with shelf bedforms largely biogenic in origin, containing fragments of bryozoan, molluscs, foraminifera and coralline algae calcium carbonate skeletons.
This additional endemism gives the oceans of the southern shelves national and international significance. South Australia’s marine environment is critically important to the State’s blue economy and culture, and is a unique and highly valued natural asset. The shelf waters of the eastern GAB, where most of SA-IMOS activities have been conducted, support significant commercial fisheries, and the most diverse marine ecosystems with the greatest density of apex predators in Australia.
The sustained observations of physical and biogeochemical systems undertaken by SAIMOS align with a number of national initiatives and priorities. These include:
- National Framework for Australian Climate Change Science through a) measurements of ocean temperature, salinity and acidity in the Southern Ocean (through tagged apex predators, moorings and gliders); b) provision of data for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility and DoA Climate Change Research Programs; and c) ACCESS model verification.
- National: CSIRO/BoM/RAN Bluelink ocean forecasting.
- National Marine Bioregional Planning (through the identification of plankton species and areas of ecological importance to apex predators, and demonstration of oceanographic connectivity between the four key oceanographic sub-regions in Southern Australian waters).
- Higher education training in marine observing systems through PhD projects and the use of SA-IMOS data during undergraduate lectures and practicals.