Presented by Dr Elena Kupriyanova

Senior Research Scientist, Marine Invertebrates, Australian Museum Research Institute.

Although the abyssal zone of the ocean (below 2000 metres) is the largest habitat on the planet, it remains the most unexplored environment due to the difficulty of working at such great depths and its remoteness. In Australia, the abyssal plain (3000 to 6000 m) covers ~2.8 million km2, or 30% of Australia’s marine territory. The deeper areas of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone have been unsampled for fauna compared with the intertidal and shallow sublittoral waters. This is mainly because until 2015 Australia lacked the capacity to consistently collect biological material from the depths below 3000 m.

A new era for deep-sea biological exploration in Australia began with the launch of the CSIRO research vessel (RV) Investigator, the first Australian research vessel equipped to routinely perform biological sampling to depths of 5000 metres. AMRI scientists have participated in RV Investigator research voyages from the very beginning of this new era. Dr Kupriyanova talks about the history of AMRI's participation in such voyages and the plans for the upcoming expedition voyage to seamounts of Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories.

This research has been supported by a grant on sea time on RV Investigator from the CSIRO Marine National Facility. Please note, the Indian Ocean Territories voyage was temporarily suspended after completing the survey of the Christmas Island region. The second part of the voyage to survey the region around Cocos (Keeling) Islands is being rescheduled. Learn more