Exploring life in undersea canyons

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30 October 2013

A new paper published in the journal Marine Biology Research sheds light on the biodiversity of undersea canyons off South Australia. The lead author is Dr David Currie, Principal Marine Scientist at GHD, one of the world’s leading engineering, architecture and environmental consulting companies.

Titled “Megabenthic biodiversity in two contrasting submarine canyons on Australia’s southern continental margin,” the paper was co-authored with Shirley Sorokin from the South Australian Research and Development Institute.

“Undersea canyons are increasingly recognised as potential hotspots of biodiversity and biological productivity, but a lot is still unknown about the organisms that live along the bottom. In particular, the remote undersea canyons of southern Australia are poorly explored,” David says.

David’s paper compares du Couedic and Bonney canyons off the coast of South Australia, using samples collected by a marine expedition aboard the vessel RV Southern Surveyor in 2008. The paper looks at many types of organisms known collectively as “benthic megafauna”. It concludes that du Couedic contains a lot more species due to organically enriched seasonal outflows from Spencer Gulf.

“The South Australian canyons also appear to be a lot more species-rich than similar environments in the North Sea and the Atlantic,” David says.

This project was jointly funded by South Australian and Australian federal governments.

David Currie


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