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16 March 2010
A project mapping marine coastal fish habitats off the south-west Victorian coast has won international recognition.
PhD student Jacquomo Monk, from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Deakin University’s Warrnambool Campus, has won the 2009 Australasian Hydrographic Society Education Award.
The education award is open to students studying a broad range of maritime disciplines throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia.
Jacquomo’s research project is using recent advances in sonar and remotely-operated underwater video to investigate where and why fish species are living on the seafloor. The research is being carried out over two regions in south-west Victoria as a part of the Victorian Marine Habitat Mapping Project.
“The project will facilitate a better understanding of our marine environment,” he said. “If you look at Google Earth there are very detailed images of land use but the vast oceans are just flat, blue areas. We’re looking to find out more about life in those areas.”
The research is into its third year and has, among other things, found how seafloor structure influences where we find fish species.
Up to 50 different species have been identified in the research zone. “Most are very common species, although we are still processing the data,” Jacquomo said
Jacquomo is using predictive modelling techniques to get a greater understanding of the relationships between fish species and their environment.
“This information is essential to better manage vulnerable, rare and ecologically important communities,” he said.
The title of the PhD research project is ‘Understanding demersal fish-habitat associations using video observations and sonar imaging’ and is being supervised by a team led by Dr Daniel Ierodiaconou from the Warrnambool Campus’ School of Life and Environmental Sciences.
The project was recognised by the Australian Hydrographic Society in 2006 with a Scientific and Technical Achievement Award for the development of new techniques for coastal habitat mapping.
The funds from the Society award will allow Jacquomo to present his work at the GeoHab (Marine Geological and Biological Habitat Mapping) Conference in Wellington, New Zealand in May, and to the Hydrographic board in Sydney later in the year.
He hopes to continue his research in other parts of Victoria next year.
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