Australian Institute of Marine Science

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is a tropical marine research agency located in Townsville. We occasionally help the Institute communicate its work.

On June 26 we helped AIMS announce a paper they collaborated on, published in Science: corals have the genes to adapt to warmer oceans. Press kit below. For more, contact Niall on 0417-131-977 or

Corals already have the genes to adapt to warmer oceans

Townsville and Texas researchers discover a genetic basis to temperature tolerance in coral. And it likely depends on ‘mum’s genes’.

Media resources:

A team of Australian and US scientists have discovered that corals already have the genes to tolerate global warming. It may only be a matter of shuffling them to where they are most needed.

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Corals already have the genes to adapt to warmer oceans – images

Please click on an image to access the high resolution version.

Far Nothern GBR_by LK Bay

Far Northern Great Barrier Reef. Reefs around the world are threatened by climate change. A new study shows that some corals have the genes to adapt to warmer oceans. Credit: Line K Bay, AIMS

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University of Texas at Austin release

UT Austin logo


Corals are already adapting to global warming, scientists say

AUSTIN, Texas — Some coral populations already have genetic variants necessary to tolerate warm ocean waters, and humans can help to spread these genes, a team of scientists from The University of Texas at Austin, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Oregon State University have found. The discovery has implications for many reefs now threatened by global warming and shows for the first time that mixing and matching corals from different latitudes may boost reef survival.

The findings were published this week in the journal Science.

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Twice the coral trout in Great Barrier Reef protected zones

Media resources:

Coral trout in protected ‘green zones’ are not only bigger and more abundant than those in fished ‘blue zones’ of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but they are also better able to cope with cyclone damage, according to a long-term study published today in Current Biology.

Coral trout biomass has more than doubled since the 1980s in the green zones with most of the growth occurring since the 2004 rezoning. These and other changes identified by the study show that the green zones are contributing to the health of the Great Barrier Reef and that similar approaches may be beneficial for coral reefs around the world. [click to continue…]

Coral chemicals protect against warming oceans

EMBARGO LIFTED: 4am AEDT, Thursday 24 October 2013

Nature paper reveals coral animals produce the ‘smell of the ocean’ – influencing cloud formation and protecting themselves against rising seawater temperatures. 

Australian marine scientists have found the first evidence that coral itself may play an important role in regulating local climate.

They have discovered that the coral animal—not just its algal symbiont—makes an important sulphur-based molecule with properties to assist it in many ways, ranging from cellular protection in times of heat stress to local climate cooling by encouraging clouds to form.

These findings have been published in the prestigious weekly science journal Nature.

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$37 million Sea Simulator opens in Townsville

Media release from Senator the Hon Kim Carr and Senator the Hon Jan McLucas.

A new, $37 million experimental sea simulator will enable Australian scientists to recreate ocean conditions and study how both human activities and natural events will affect our marine environment in the future.

Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Senator Kim Carr and Senator for Queensland Jan McLucas opened the National Sea Simulator (SeaSim), at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in Townsville today.

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About SeaSim, the National Sea Simulator

Media background information, 1 August 2013

What is SeaSim?

SeaSim is a research aquarium. It comprises a seawater processing plant, several controlled environment rooms, and open plan spaces for large tanks and long-term experiments.

In short, it brings together a reliable, consistent supply of high quality seawater with the technology to enable precise control over environmental factors, such as temperature, light, acidity, salinity, sedimentation and contaminants. [click to continue…]

The National Sea Simulator – Reaction comments

Luke Smith, Environment Manager from Woodside Energy, Russell Reichelt, Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and scientists from CSIRO, the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Western Australian and James Cook University in Townsville tell what the new Sea Simulator facility means to them. More comments will be added during the day. [click to continue…]

Modelling Darwin Harbour’s extreme tides

$5.6 million upgrade to Arafura Timor Research Facility

Launched by Federal Science and Research Minister Don Farrell

Media call 9.30 am, Friday 24 May 2013, 23 Ellengowan Drive, Brinkin

Darwin Harbour has extreme tidal rises and falls of up to eight-metres. So the ebbing and flowing currents in the channels are strong and fast, all of which makes it difficult for pilots to berth bulk carriers or manoeuvre dredges. [click to continue…]

Remote reefs can be tougher than they look

Scott Reef had largely recovered from a catastrophic mass bleaching of corals within twelve years of the disturbance, despite the lack of connectivity to other reefs in the region. The rate of recovery was attributed to the lack of many local anthropogenic pressures affecting reefs around the world, such as degraded water quality and overfishing of herbivores (credit: N Thake).

WA’s Scott Reef has recovered from mass bleaching in 1998

Isolated coral reefs can recover from catastrophic damage as effectively as those with nearby undisturbed neighbours, a long-term study by marine biologists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) has shown.

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Scott Reef images

Below are a series of photos and videos taken from Scott Reef. To access the high resolution version of the images, click on them to open them in high res then right/command click and select save as.
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The Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its coral in the last 27 years

Can we save the Reef by controlling crown of thorns starfish?

The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the last 27 years. The loss was due to storm damage (48%), crown of thorns starfish (42%), and bleaching (10%) according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today by researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in Townsville and the University of Wollongong. [click to continue…]