2016 AMSA Awards Winners!!
AMSA Jubilee Award for Excellence 2016
Dr Barry Bruce, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere
First awarded in AMSAs Silver Jubilee Year (1988) our professional award recognises excellence in marine research and is presented to a scientist who has made an outstanding contribution to marine research in Australia.
This year our worthy and distinguished winner is Dr Barry Bruce, Senior Research Scientist for Pelagic Spatial Dynamics, from Marine Resources and Industries Program of CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere.
Barry’s career has spanned multiple spatial scales in the ocean. Beginning with plankton in the 1980s, he worked for the Australian Antarctic Division publishing on krill physiology and reproduction, followed by a period working on the early life history of southern Australian finfish with CSIRO and the then South Australian Department of Fisheries. This resulted in 12 papers on larval taxonomy and ecology as well as two chapters of ‘Larvae of Indo-Pacific shore fishes’ (1989) and nine chapters of ‘The larvae of temperate Australian Fishes: a laboratory guide for larval fish identification’ (1997) both of which are texts that are still used today. Plankton related work has continued with research on the reproductive and larval ecology of seastars and research on the distribution of Southern rock lobster phyllosoma culminating with the development of a dispersal and settlement model to support decision-making by fisheries managers.
In the early 1990s, Barry and his colleagues increased the size of their animals of interest by researching the reproductive biology and captive husbandry of the endangered spotted handfish. Barry subsequently co-authored the recovery plan and several papers on this species. Following on from this grounding in conservation work, Barry has gone on to make an outstanding contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the iconic white shark. This contribution is on-going, with extensive advice provided to national and state governments and other stakeholders that helps guide management. Presently he leads a project using cutting-edge technologies to assess the status of white sharks, developing the first reliable estimate of population size for Australia.
Barry’s team was the first to apply satellite tracking technology to white sharks in 2000/2001 and the first to make white shark tracks publically available via the internet. His team was also one of the first to use mobile phone and satellite technologies to receive real-time messages about the movements of acoustic-tagged white sharks around the coast of Australia, a technique that has since become widely used for telemetry of data. Recent results from his team’s work has identified two populations of white sharks in Australian waters separated east and west by Bass Strait as well as a higher level of movement and potential for gene flow (or transient movement of non-breeding sharks) between Australia and New Zealand than previously thought. The profile of his team’s work has led to a high media demand for comment on shark issues (with over 150 media interviews in the past five years) and has raised the national awareness of shark research and for white sharks in particular.
AMSA Technical Award 2016
Ms Lesley Clementson, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere
The AMSA Technical Award recognises outstanding achievements in the field of technical support to marine science in Australia. The prize emphasizes the valuable contribution to marine science made by those who provide the technical and logistical support services which make much research possible.
This year’s winner, Ms Clementson from the Temperate Coastal Group of the Coastal, Development and Management Program of CSIRO Oceans and Atmostphere. Lesley both established and runs Australia’s only dedicated marine bio-optics laboratory. Her lab has ‘world class’ status as one of only four phytoplankton pigment laboratories internationally accredited by NASA. The high quality data and analysis produced by Lesley’s lab has been pivotal to the success of multi-institutional projects within satellite remote-sensing (SRS) of ocean colour, biological oceanography, coastal water quality management, biofuels from micro-algae and fisheries management.
Lesley plays a leading role in coordinating and managing Australian and international databases in pigments and bio-optical properties. Lesley developed and maintains the unique data archive of in situ bio-optical parameters for Australian waters, which currently contains over 15,000 data points from 1997 to the present day and is publicly available through the IMOS web portal. Lesley’s collaborations with scientists at both the North American (NASA) and European (ESA) Space Agencies have allowed this data archive to be seamlessly included in their global databases, SeaBASS and MERMAID. This unprecedented inclusion of such a large amount of in situ data from the Australasian region in these global datasets both underpins the assessment of ocean colour products for this region and allows for regional tuning of global algorithms and the parameterization of regional algorithms.
The database is not only a valuable asset for satellite ocean colour validation and phytoplankton functional type (PFT) algorithm development, but also for the marine and climate science community in general. It provides historic data and input variables for biological and ecological models at both local and global scales. Since late 2011, Lesley has been a member of the International Working Group for Phytoplankton Functional Type (PFT) Algorithm Development and has lead the development of global data sets to be used for the parameterisation and validation of PFT algorithms.
AMSA Allen Award 2015
Mr Phil Bouchet, University of Western Australia
One of the most important roles of AMSA is to develop and encourage our student members. The AMSA Allen Award is a grant of $2,500 to support an outstanding
postgraduate student to attend an international conference, with the aim to gain experience and serve as an ambassador for Australian marine science. The Allen Award is in memory of Kay Radway and Rosa Allen who were both active on AMSA Council for many years and is supported by a bequest from the estate of the late K Radway Allen since June 2008.
This year our student ambassador will be Mr Phil Bouchet from the University of Western Australia who will attend the 4th International Marine Conservation Congress at St John's in Canada.
Born at the foot of a mountain in the northern French Alps, my career choices have earned me more than a few quizzical looks over the years. But the heart wants what the heart wants, right? I was blessed to discover scuba diving and snorkelling at the age of fifteen on the tropical reefs of the Red Sea, back when tourist visitation (and its impacts on habitats) was merely a fraction of what it is today. Cupid’s arrow hit me the minute I broke the surface. I was dazzled by the explosion of colours, diversity, and the otherworldly tranquillity that reigned despite them. I knew I had to learn more, and I never looked back.
My academic training has been filled with good fortune, not least in that it has taken me places. I completed the first half of my undergraduate degree in Grenoble before moving to Brittany (on the west coast of France), where I majored in marine biology. After working in IT/administration/banking for a year, I had saved up enough pennies to pay for tuition at the University of St. Andrews (Scotland), where I enrolled in a Masters of Research in marine mammal science, squeezing in a 4-month work contract to conduct visual surveys of oceanic wildlife down under before the semester kick-off. My Masters of Research (MRes) dissertation focused on producing an updated abundance estimate for Southern Hemisphere Stock D humpback whales based on aerial counts. Though I absolutely loved my time in the UK, the call of the warm and sun-filled Australian weather was impossible to resist. So I migrated back to Australia, assisting with a variety of cetacean projects in Geographe Bay, the Perth canyon and off the Pilbara coast. It wasn’t long until I commenced my doctoral studies within the Centre for Marine Futures (Oceans Institute, School of Animal Biology) at UWA.
My main supervisor, Prof. Jessica Meeuwig, fervently (yet lovingly) converted the whale geek in me into a fish and shark aficionado. For my PhD, I helped pioneer novel underwater digital camera technology (termed “drifting baited stereo-videography”) that can be used to monitor and protect poorly known pelagic species in remote, offshore waters. Statistics and computer programming really are what gets me out of bed in the morning though, so a substantial part of my work revolved around developing large-scale predictive distribution models to identify areas of high ecological and conservation value for mobile vertebrate predators. I was particularly interested in the role that bottom topography plays in aggregating animals. Seamounts, for example, have been documented as hotspots of life in the “barren blue desert”, but other prominent features like submarine canyons or submerged banks and shoals, have received little attention in comparison. Using a global database of historical commercial fishing records, I was able to demonstrate that tunas, mackerels and marlins are found in greater abundance around a number of deep West Australian canyons, few of which currently overlap the Australian National Network of Commonwealth Marine Reserves, even partially. This tells me two things: first, that abrupt topography may be a useful blueprint for spatial planning, and second, that significant opportunities exist to improve management frameworks for pelagic species within the Australian maritime estate.
Like many of my peers, I am a great believer in applied research that has a measurable impact on the environment and our society. “Making marine science matter” was the theme of this year’s Fourth International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC4), which was held in St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in July. I am both honoured and incredibly excited to have been granted the 2016 AMSA Allen Award to present my results at this conference. The study, like the rest of my PhD work, is an output from the National Environmental Research Program (NERP)’s Marine Biodiversity Hub (a multi-institutional partnership funded by the Australian Government), so my attendance was a great way to promote quality Australian science to an international audience.