I have started working on a side project… We’re going to sample MORE plankton! In collaboration with one or two tour-operators in Exmouth we want to have a close look at the plankton assemblages around the reef and especially around the whale sharks. These tour-operators are keen to better protect and understand the marine life they encounter every day so they will be sampling every day for me and I will analyse the samples back in my lab! Team work!
Exmouth is located in the Northwest of of Australia (Western Australia)
The North Western of WA is home to a lovely fringing reef called Ningaloo Reef. The reef is protected (Ningaloo Marine Park) and managed by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC). Ningaloo is very special to my heart because ever since I came to Australia I have been there pretty much every year for various research projects. Ningaloo is home as much as Perth is now. I’m really happy to contribute again to some research up there.
The proximity of Ningaloo Reef to the continental shelf drop makes it an especially productive area that attracts megafauna: whale sharks, humpback whales etc..
I cannot say much more right now because the project is only starting…baby steps… but I can tell you I am already looking at samples taken right next to an aggregation of whale sharks that took place last month near Coral Bay (south of Exmouth) and I’m keen to find out what made them all go there at once!