Speakers from the Deep - Guest Speakers

AUD $20.00
  • Duration: 4 Hours (approx.)
  • Location: Hillarys, WA
  • Product code: PG04MA

The Australian Marine Sciences Association presents an engaging and informative night on a range of topics from detecting deep sea creatures with DNA, how healthy are our Southwest estuaries, unraveling the mysteries of the worlds largest rays!

5.30pm – Doors Open

6.30pm – Start

Limited seats available.

Food and beverages are available for purchase on the night.


Title: Back to the future! The second International Indian Ocean Expedition 

Speaker: Professor Lynnath E Beckley 

Institution: Murdoch University 

In the 1960s, Australia made a significant contribution to the first International Indian Ocean Expedition. Now, nearly six decades later, a second Expedition is underway, and in May 2019 a multi-institutional team of 30 oceanographers will head offshore from Fremantle with the Australian Research Vessel Investigator to investigate the oceanography of the SE Indian Ocean. On this month-long voyage we will to repeat the 110°E line from the 1960s, examine multi-decadal change in the physics, chemistry and biology of the water column, investigate microbes and biogeochemistry especially related to nitrogen and study the pelagic food web from plankton through to mesopelagic lantern fishes. The voyage will also enable ground truthing of bio-optical quantities like sea surface colour recorded by satellites. For comparison, some of our work will use the original techniques employed during the first Expedition but these will be supplemented by a host of modern techniques and electronic technology that will assist us in better understanding the pelagic ecosystem at the western edge of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone.


Title: Into darkness: detecting cave and deep-sea animals with DNA

Speaker: Katrina West

Institution: Trace and Environmental DNA (TrEnD) Laboratory, Curtin University

Submerged caves and deep-sea trenches are two of the last unexplored frontiers on Earth. Given difficulties in accessing these isolated ecosystems, we don’t know the extent of how many, and what types of animals, lurk in the watery depths. It has been estimated that more than 80% of Australia’s cave animals and 60% of global ocean animals, largely deep-sea species, have yet to be discovered. A new genetic detection technique, termed environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding, is revolutionising our approach to biological surveying. This technique involves taking a simple water sample, extracting all the DNA that has been shed into the environment by animals, and then matching the numerous DNA barcodes to our ever-increasing databases. In applying this technique to cave water and deep-sea samples, we have detected an incredible array of eels, bioluminescent fish, hatchetfish, hydrozoans and squid. eDNA is illuminating our understanding of species diversity in these dark ecosystems.


Title: Southwest estuaries – how healthy are they and what is being done to protect and restore them?

Speaker: Catherine Thomson

Institution: Aquatic Science, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation

Estuaries are unique, dynamic environments where freshwater, marine water and people meet. Estuaries provide safe harbours, beauty, places to recreate and

for quiet reflection; they connect people to the natural environment, they are nurseries for fisheries, sanctuaries for birds, they are highly productive and bio diverse ecosystems.

Urban expansion, clearing for agriculture and now climate change have impacted southwest estuaries. We have seen symptoms of decline – nuisance algal blooms, fish kills and loss of biodiversity.

The Regional Estuaries Initiative (led by the Department of Water and Environmental) aims to improve the health of 6 of our most at-risk estuaries by putting in place new programs that will work across government, with industry and communities, with, scientists, engineers and farmers; in paddocks and urban gardens, in drainage systems and in the rivers and estuaries themselves.


Title: Unravelling the mysteries of the world’s largest rays: a multidisciplinary approach 

to understanding manta ray ecology and population dynamics in Mozambique

Speaker: Stephanie Venables

Institution: Marine Megafauna Foundation and University of Western Australia


Despite their status as charismatic and iconic marine megafauna species, both species of manta ray are vulnerable to extinction with population declines reported in numerous locations across the globe. Such declines are largely due to anthropogenic threats including fisheries, which target manta rays for their gill arches to be used as ingredients in Chinese health tonics. In order to protect remaining populations, increased knowledge of manta ray biology, ecology and population dynamics is vital to design appropriate management and conservation programs. 

I will begin with a brief overview of manta ray biology and ecology and outline my PhD research in Mozambique, explaining how techniques such as photo identification, acoustic tagging and population genetics can be used to assess population size and structure, dynamics and movement patterns. This study will provide vital information to further understand the conservation requirements for manta rays and guide the development of effective management strategies on a regional and global scale.