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Research themes

  • Urbanisation


    Sydney Harbour is Australia's largest, and most iconic, urbanised estuary. This makes SIMS an ideal place from which to understand, and help manage the pressures of urbanisation on the harbour and coastal ecosystems.

  • Biodiversity


    Sydney Harbour is one of the most biologically diverse harbours in the world. SIMS scientists are using both traditional and modern molecular techniques to expand our knowledge of this immense biodiversity.

  • Climate Change

    Climate Change

    The oceanography of the east coast of Australia is dominated by the East Australian Current. This current is increasing in strength making South-East Australia a global hot spot for climate change. SIMS is ideally placed for studying the causes and impacts of climate change in marine systems.

  • Ocean Resources

    Ocean Resources

    The ocean provides a wealth of resources for our use. SIMS scientists' research on the sustainable use of ocean resources is comparably broad, ranging from studies of the molecular mode of action of potential new pharmaceuticals to enhancing fish and prawn stocks along our coast.

  • Marine Management

    Marine Management

    From exploitation of key fisheries to conservation of endangered species, marine management relies on science to inform policy decisions. SIMS research is playing a critical role in managing our marine environment.

Bulletin board

  • Australian Research Facility for Marine Microbial Biotoxins


    The Australian Research Facility for Marine Microbial Biotoxins is a specialist laboratory at the SIMS that was formed through a collaborative partnership between scientists from the UNSW, UTS, UTAS, the SIMS Foundation and the Cawthron Institute (New Zealand). The centrepiece of this facility is a liquid chromatography coupled with high resolution Thermo Scientific Q Exactive mass spectrometer (LC-MS), a screening platform used to analyse and quantify marine chemical compounds at ultra-trace quantities against complex sample backgrounds. 

    We provide services for the quantitation of molecules including marine biotoxins, metabolomic profiling, and molecular formula confirmation (HRMS). This facility is run by a specialised chemist. We can conduct all sample processing and analysis, or train research students enrolled at our partner Universities to conduct this work.

    To find out more about this facility,  please contact Dr Chowdhury Sarowar at Chowdhury.Sarowar@sims.org.au

  • 2015 Emerald Dinner


    22nd October, 6.00 for 6.30pm


    Don't miss the 2015 Emerald Dinner and Guest Speaker Valerie Taylor AM.

    Valerie is a world famous Australian shark expert and together with her late husband Ron, has been acclaimed internationally for her services to conservation and the environment and as an advocate for the protection and preservation of marine wildlife and habitats.

    The evening promises to be a spectacular one and a wonderful opportunity to show your ongoing support for critical marine research at SIMS.

    Find all the detail below or call us on 02 9435 4600

    2015 Emerald Dinner Invitation

    2015 Emerald Dinner Booking form


  • Congratulations - Eureka Prize winners


    Congratulations to Professor David Raftos, Macquarie University, and Professor Emma Johnston, UNSW who both won Eureka Prizes at the 2015 ceremony at the Australian Museum.

    Professor David Raftos won the new Rural Research and Development Corporations Eureka Prize for Rural Innovation. Working with oyster farmers along Australia’s east coast, he helped breed stronger, more disease-resistant oysters that promise a 10% to 20% increase in yield.

    Professor Emma Johnston won the Department of Industry and Science Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research. She brings marine research to a broad audience using a variety of methods including appearance in print, radio and television including BBC/Foxtel series Coast Australia.

  • Sydney Reef study of protection zones


    Media Release 23rd August 2015


    A 2015 survey  of marine life on Sydney's rocky reefs has revealed that partially protected aquatic reserves are failing to protect fish.  Fully protected no take zones, like the reserve at Cabbage Tree Bay in Manly, had a greater abundance and diversity of large fish.  The survey found that aquatic reserves with only partial protection were no better than unprotected areas in terms of both the number of fish species and number of large fish (sized 25cm or more).  Divers completed over 40 surveys across 25 sites sponsored by SIMS and managed by Underwater Research Group (URG) of NSW.

    Read the full media release here.Sydney Reef Study

  • Launch National Marine Science Plan


    The National Marine Science Committee launched the National Marine Science Plan on 11 August 2015 at Australian Parliament House.

    The Plan draws together the knowledge and experience of more than 23 marine research organisations, universities and government departments and more than 500 scientists.

    Click on the link to view a pdf of the plan. http://frdc.com.au/environment/NMSC-WHITE/Documents/NMSP%202015-2025%20report.pdf

    NMSP reportNMSP launch 2

  • Better marine science to underpin a doubling of the 'blue economy'


    The Australian, 11th August


    Research into threatened sea life could be used to pinpoint new offshore oil deposits, under a marine science plan to be launched this afternoon at Parliament House.

    Scientists say Australia’s “blue economy” will double in value over the next decade, with gas, tourism, fishing, transport and other marine industries channelling about $100 billion into the economy in 2025 — up from $47bn at present.

    But this will require coordination of Australia’s fragmented marine science efforts and a raft of new programs including a “blue economy innovation fund” and a “national oceanographic modelling system”.

    Read the full article here 


  • 2015 Harbour Hike in the News


    Sydney Morning Herald, 8th August 2015


    Take a look at what SIMS is up to and learn all about this year's Hike to support critical marine science.

    Special feature - SMH Aug 08




  • Plan urges Marine Science Coalition


    The Australian, 12th August



    A national 10-year plan says institutions that prioritise marine science should form a coalition - possibly a formal grouping such as the Group of Eight or the Australian Technology Network - and develop a national strategy for training. The report, released yesterday in Canberra, said about half of Australia’s postgraduate marine science programs focused ­exclusively on biological and ­ecological sciences, often chan­nelling students into supervisors’ pet projects.

    “There has been a consistent call for graduates to have enhanced quantitative and multi­disciplinary skills. Without a targeted change to training and the disciplinary profile of super­visors, it seems unlikely that we will change this mismatch between what we are producing and what we need.”

    Read the full article here Plan urges marine scienc..[1]

  • A Vision in Blue - Industry Minister Launches Ten Year Plan


    Media Release, 11th August 4pm



    Australia’s vast oceans are a vital part of the heritage, heart and economic future of our country. The value of this marine estate to the homes, work, play, energy, food, safety and security of all Australians is matched only by the enormous economic and environmental wealth that this national asset affords us.

    By 2025, Australia’s marine industries will contribute around $100 billion each year to our economy, with our oceans and coasts providing a further $25 billion worth of ecosystem services, such as carbon-dioxide absorption, nutrient cycling and coastal protection.

    Read the full Media Release here. Marine-PRFinalVersion Media Release

  • SIMS Foundation Newsletter June 2015


    The new SIMS Foundation Newsletter has been released!

    Click here for the latest Foundation Newsletter

    We encourage all of you to sign up for Harbour Hike (details in the newsletter) as it will be a great day out on 30th August.

    To have a look at past archives of the Foundation newsletter, click here.

  • 2015 Tony Roach Prize Results


    SIMS and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) are pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 round of the Tony Roach Prize in Marine Environmental Science -  Shawna Foo is honoured to receive the award this year for her paper "Increased temperature, but not acidification, enhances fertilization and development in a tropical urchin: potential for adaptation to a tropicalized eastern Australia".

    The prize is in memory of Dr. Tony Roach and his long career and contributions to marine science in New South Wales, and is awarded to the best paper by a young scientist on any aspect of marine or estuarine environmental science.



  • Marine Matters Issue 21


    The 21st issue of the IMOS newsletter Marine Matters is now available.


    The June edition includes the following stories:

    - Sea level is rising fast – and it seems to be speeding up
    - A fresh new look for the IMOS OceanCurrent website
    - Surprising results as RV Investigator’s first scientific voyage builds on IMOS long-term monitoring of the Southern Ocean
    - The World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia will be the focus of a new marine research partnership between CSIRO and BHP Billiton Petroleum
    - Darwin Harbour safer for shipping with improved ability to predict conditions
    - NSW floodwaters seen from space and by an IMOS glider
    and more!

  • Mating Giant Australian Cuttlefish


    Giant Australian cuttlefish, Sepia apama, form the only known mass cuttlefish breeding aggregation from May to August each year in South Australia. Thousands of mature individuals converge on a highly localised area of shallow sub-tidal rocky reef at Point Lowly, northern Spencer Gulf to breed.

    The population has an extreme male biased sex ratio of 5:1 during the breeding season, reaching up to 11:1 at the beginning of the season. The intense competition between males has led to the development of impressive and complex mating strategies and displays, characterised with respect to the size and status of individuals.Whyalla-Cuttlefish-Mating5.jpg

  • "Tweating" seals collecting data


    Diving marine animals are proving to be an essential way of collecting oceanographic and ecological data, especially from hard to reach areas such as the ice-bound Polar Regions. Scientists from the SIMS-operated Animal Tracking and Monitoring System, a facility of IMOS, tag seals in the Southern Ocean with animal CTD profilers which are programmed to collect ocean profiles in parallel to biological information when animals dive for food.

    The growing time series of Southern Ocean observations collected by IMOS is already available via the IMOS data portalhttps://imos.aodn.org.au/imos123/.

    IMOS media release_2June2015

    IMG_2558_elephant seal_credit Clive McMahon_SIMS.jpg

  • Pearls in Peril - Climate Change


    Rising acidity of our oceans may affect the process of pearl formation.  We know already that environmental stress can supresses the immune system of oysters, but potentially it might also reduce the amount of crystalline calcium carbonate which the pearl oyster can secrete.  As the acidity of oceans increases as a result of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, pearl oysters may be unable to create pearls.  Fewer layers of crystalline calcium carbonate mean less pearl lustre, vital for production of pearls of high quality.

    Click on the link to read the fascinating research from the University of Western Sydney. Current Research.pearl

Long Term Projects

World Harbour Project

Initiated by SIMS, the aim of the World Harbour Project is to link, facilitate and enhance programs of research and management across major urban harbours and ports of the world.


SIMS operates the NSW node of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS). IMOS is a nation-wide collaborative program which uses the latest advances in technology to observe the oceans. The program has strong links with similar international programs and agencies.

Sydney Harbour Research Program

SIMS is conducting a multidisciplinary research project. The objectives are to identify, preserve and enhance the resilience of those species and habitats in Sydney Harbour that have high ecosystem and conservation value, and to enhance the capacity of relevant government departments to make key management decisions regarding the Harbour.

OEH Coastal Processes and Responses Node

The NSW Office Of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has established the NSW Adaptation Hub to generate the key information necessary to manage the consequences of environmental change in NSW. There are three research Nodes within the Hub, and SIMS manages the Coastal Processes and Responses Node.