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  • THE UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND Island Research Stations Newsletter 2017

    CRICOS Provider Number 00025B

  • Newsletter 2017 Published November 2017

    MBRS Station Manager Mr Kevin Townsend

    Moreton Bay Research Station PO Box 138, Dunwich QLD, 4183 Ph: +61 7 3409 9058 Email:

    HIRS Station Manager Dr Elizabeth Perkins

    Heron Island Research Station Heron Island via Gladstone QLD 4680 Ph: +61 7 4978 1399 Email:

    A curious Koala enjoying Moreton Bay Research Station’s facilitites - L. Trippett.

    Cover images: Leaving Heron Island - C. Harris; Mangrove with snails - L. Trippett; Soldier crab - L. Trippett; Kookaburra - L. Trippett; Leaf reflection - L. Trippett.

    Senior Manager; Research Facilities and Infrastructure Dr Clint Chapman Email:

    Research Facilities Project Officers Ms Lucy Hurrey Email: Ms Phoebe Baldwin Email:

    - i -


    Moreton Bay Research Station

    Moreton Bay Research Station (MBRS) is located 40 kilometres east of Brisbane on the Moreton Bay side of North Stradbroke Island, providing direct access to the waters of Moreton Bay and the Pacific Ocean as well as the unique terrestrial environments of the 27,700 hectare sand island.

    Lying on the convergence of the eastern Australian sub-tropical and temperate zones, North Stradbroke Island and the surrounding waters support an incredibly diverse range of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems on which to base research and education activities.

    Owned and operated by The University of Queensland, the research station offers accommodation for up to 96 guests in a range of accommodation styles. Modern research laboratories, teaching space and lecture theatres, boating facilities and a fabulous location attract visiting scientists and academics from around the world each year. The permanent staff of six are available to assist with planning your visit and provide scientific and boating support as required.

    Heron Island Research Station

    Situated on the southern Great Barrier Reef, 80 km offshore from the city of Gladstone, Heron Island Research Station (HIRS) is the oldest and largest marine research station on the Reef. With crystal clear water and near pristine conditions, the Station provides easy and direct access to the marine environment.

    Also owned and operated by The University of Queensland, HIRS is internationally renowned for coral reef research and student training in marine sciences. Facilities and equipment rarely found in an offshore facility combined with its enviable position on the world’s largest reef make HIRS the ideal location for climate change research.

    The Station caters to Australian and international researchers and education groups, offering modern wet and dry laboratories, indoor and outdoor aquaria, a large animal holding tank, separate research and teaching laboratories, seminar facilities, a library, computer room and extensive boating and diving facilities. A permanent staff of eleven are available to provide scientific and education services, boating, diving and technical support.

    Moreton Bay Research Station, uniquely positioned and easily accessible for field or laboratory based research, conferences, workshops and educational groups - OMC.

    Heron Island Research Station, a world class research, conference and teaching facility located on the doorstep of the magnificent Great Barrier Reef - OMC.

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    2017 has been another exciting year for MBRS, full of new researchers, teaching groups, and outreach programs. This year, we said goodbye to long-time staff member Kathryn Crouch who moved on to an exciting new position and welcomed three new staff members; Sheridan Rabbitt as Station Assistant - Education, Cameron Cottrell as Station Assistant - Boating and Diving, and Jennie Bell as Administration Officer.

    This year Associate Professor Jonathan Prangnell from UQ’s School of Social Sciences visited the station with a group of undergraduate archaeology students to excavate a local dig. The excavation is a joint project between Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum and the Redland City Council. It is investigating early European settlement of Dunwich and the interactions with the local Quandamooka people.

    In July, the UQMBRS Marine Mammal Forum was a huge success and is promising to turn into an annual event. Sharing scientific and traditional knowledge, the forum was part of the Quandamooka Festival’s Whale

    Welcoming Ceremony and attracted over 100 people.

    Another exciting development comes from UQ Business School’s Associate Professor Pierre Benckendorff who began working with the Queensland Government on the NSI Strategy Visitor Research Program. The project seeks to understand tourist needs and market awareness over the next five years. Data collection will occur over three rounds between now and 2021.

    Our outreach programs with Dunwich State School included the 2017 Steam-Athlon. With help from MBRS researchers, students investigated the effectiveness of seagrass friendly moorings, the result of which had them designing their own mooring. The top three student designs were then handed over to UQ Science Workshops who built working prototypes to student’s specifications. Dunwich was awarded second place overall out of 12 teams from around the SEQ region - a fantastic team effort!

    Station staff have thoroughly enjoyed working with clients of MBRS and we look forward to welcoming you back in 2018.

    KEVIN TOWNSEND Station Manager, Moreton Bay Research Station

    Three pelicans catch some sun near MBRS - L. Trippett.

    - 2 -


    HIRS has been investigating some large- scale facility-wide projects in the last few years. 2017 saw some big wins for these plans and we can now announce that the station will be working on some significant upgrades over the coming years. The two key projects will involve extensive solar power and saltwater intake improvements, so keep an eye out for updates as we move forward.

    In 2017, community involvement was high on the agenda for HIRS. We began running tours of the station for resort guests, attended Gladstone Ecofest, and unveiled a wonderful hermit crab mural from artist Amok Island. It has been fantastic to see so much interest in the facility and we hope to take part in many more activities in the future.

    In the second half of the year, a new partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation saw the development of the Live Learning Library, a purpose-built open-access data repository. The Library is already housing baseline data from the facility’s weather station and solar panels. In the future we aim to build up the library with data submissions from visiting researchers and students participating in the Live Learning Program.

    This year also saw significant staffing changes as Deputy Manager/Scientific Officer Bec Tite and Maintenance Officer Sam Chapman moved on to new adventures and challenges. Likewise, I would like to take this opportunity to announce that this will be my final manager’s report as I have taken a new role in South Australia. I would like to thank you all for the last seven years, it has been a pleasure to work at and manage such a wonderful facility. I expect to hear great things coming from HIRS in the near future.

    As a result of these staff changes, some amazing opportunities have opened up. If you have ever dreamed of helping support research and education while working on a gorgeous tropical island, now could be your chance! We will be recruiting several diverse positions in the New Year, so look out for these roles being advertised on Seek and UQ Jobs.

    As always 2018 promises to pose new and different challenges for HIRS, and we appreciate your support during this time of change.

    ELIZABETH PERKINS Station Manager, Heron Island Research Station

    Turtle enjoying a swim around the Heron Island wharf - C. Harris.

    - 3 -

  • Seagrass bed in Moreton Bay, seagrass is an impotant habitat for many marine organisms living in Moreton Bay - S. Rabbitt.


    It’s been another busy year for research at Moreton Bay Research Station. Our location on the second largest sand island in the world makes MBRS a fantastic location for researching a diverse range of marine and terrestrial habitats.

    New corals discovered in Moreton Bay Dr. Chris Roelfsema from UQ’s SEES and Jennifer Loder from Reef Check Australia have discovered and mapped out new parts of the coral reef system in Moreton Bay. South-East Queensland reefs are impacted by sediment nutrients and fishing pressure, as well as acute events such as floods. The researchers hope that the study will help inform conservation decisions to protect the small but important reef system.

    Research sheds light on vulnerable species habitat selection A paper has been published using data from the Moreton Bay Array VR2 acoustic receiver system that MBRS serviced and maintained for four years. Long time MBRS client Dr. Chris Henderson tracked nineteen giant shovelnose rays (Glaucostegus typus), an IUCN listed vulnerable species within the Moreton Bay Marine Park. Results showed that seascape context and marine reserves combine to provide the optimal areas for G