A new era for deep-sea biological exploration in Australia began in 2014 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 voyages from the very beginning.
Australian Museum participation on the RV Investigator voyages include:
- Great Australian Bight deep-water palagic and benthic ecosystems (2015)
- Great Australian Bight deep water geological and benthic ecology program (2015)
- Great Australian Bight deep water geological and benthic ecology program (2017)
- Sampling the abyss (2017)
- Seamount Coral Survey (2018)
- Investigating the IOT (2021 and 2022)
Research was supported by a grant of sea time on RV Investigator from the CSIRO Marine National Facility.
Investigating the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT)
Led by voyage Chief Scientist Dr Tim O’Hara, from the Museums Victoria Research Institute, this expedition to explore Australia's Indian Ocean Territories (IOT) was run in 2021 and in 2022. Professor Shane Ahyong, Head of Marine Invertebrates at the Australian Museum, was a co-Principal Investigator on this expedition. The first leg of the IOT expedition ran in June-July 2021 and the second leg was completed in November 2022.
This world-first expedition explored and documented the seafloor across the IOT, a region whose marine diversity is little known. During these expeditions, scientists from CSIRO, Museums Victoria Research Institute, Western Australian Museum and the Australian Museum Research Institute completed multibeam mapping and collected scientifically important benthic and planktonic samples from a number of IOT seamounts.
Travelling from Darwin to Fremantle, the RV Investigator went via Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. This voyage included 32 participants across 7 institutions, including 3 Australian museums and 2 international research institutes.
Australian Museum staff, students and fellows who participated in this voyage include:
Sampling the abyss
Professor Shane Ahyong, Head of Marine Invertebrates at the Australian Museum, was co-Principal Investigator on the Sampling the abyss voyage in 2017. This voyage was the first to systematically collect biological samples from Tasmania to southern Queensland, from 1,000 to 4,000 metres in depth. The abyss is a poorly understood and sampled Australian environment. From this month-long voyage, a staggering 25,710 organisms were collected and the majority (58% of the species) were thought to be new to science. An immense range of organisms were found at these depths including sponges, corals, octopuses, fish, crabs, lobsters, starfish, sea cucumbers, sea anemones, and over 6,000 worm specimens. The 2017 voyage included an international team of 40 scientists and support staff on board.
Australian Museum staff, students and fellows who participated in this voyage included: