Understanding Kimberley reef ecosystems

The Kimberley Marine Park supports diverse marine life, but little is known about its coral reef ecosystems. A new collaborative project ‘Kimberley Reef Connect’ aims to close that knowledge gap.  

Funded by the Australian Government through the Our Marine Parks Program, the project is a collaboration between Curtin University, the Western Australian Museum, Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation and Parks Australia.  

Bluefin Trevally. Credit: Associate Professor Zoe Richards, Curtin University.

It will focus on the Uunguu Wundaagu Indigenous Protected Area within the Commonwealth Kimberley Marine Park and aims to increase understanding of the health, biodiversity, ecological and cultural values of the area. 

This will help inform the management of the Marine Park and prioritise research. It will also increase capacity of both Wunambal Gaambera participants and scientists to share cultural and science knowledge.  

Trip Leader Associate Professor Zoe Richards from Curtin University’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences said fieldwork would start with a 12-day, scuba-based, marine biodiversity survey and culminate in a culture camp at the outer islands.  

“Reef ecosystems within the Kimberley Marine Park support a range of marine life including corals, reef fish and protected marine turtles,” Associate Professor Richards said.  

“Reefs in the Wundaagu saltwater country are likely to play an important role as stepping-stones, connecting fauna across northern Australia with South East Asia, however, more information is needed about the diversity and uniqueness of marine life in the region.”