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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

  • SIMS Foundation Newsletter April 2016


    Read all the news from SIMS in the April 2016 Foundation Newsletter

    SIMS Foundation newsletter April 2016


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  • Urban Coastal Waterways: Can Blue be Green?


    SIMS CEO, Professor Peter Steinberg delivers a presentation for SCI21 on urban coastal waterways.Take a look https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64ppEihxFlA

  • Sydney corals now bleaching


    Sydney Morning Herald, April 19 2016


    The giant coral bleaching event that is devastating wide swaths of the Great Barrier Reef has extended all the way south to Sydney Harbour, researchers say.

    The harbour's surface temperature reached 26 degrees at times during a prolonged marine heatwave in recent months that had also set records for parts of the Australian coast. The unusual warmth - several degrees above the peak of 23 to 24 degrees typically seen in summer - was enough to trigger coral bleaching in the harbour for the first time on record, according to marine biologists from the University of Technology Sydney and Macquarie University.

    Read the full article featuring Assoc Professor Joshua Madin form Macquarie University and SIMS, and phd student Samantha Goyen from UTS.

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/sydneys-corals-now-bleaching-in-pretty-shocking-sign-of-warming-waters-20160418-go8qex.htmltemperate bleached coral


  • Aggressive bacteria species found in the harbour


    SMH, 13th April 2016


    According to a new study by University of Technology Sydney scientists, two species of potentially dangerous Vibrio bacteria were detectable in particularly high concentrations when the water was warmest and in areas of mid-salinity, around Parramatta Park, Olympic Park and Rozelle.  Co-author and associate professor at UTS' Climate Change Cluster, Justin Seymour, said the findings have serious implications for Sydney Harbour users and authorities 

    Peter Steinberg, director of Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences, welcomed the report which is part of a wider program attempting to understand the ecosystems and diversity of the harbour in collaboration with SIMS. 

    Read the full article here


  • Women in Science roles


    Professor Emma Johnston from SIMS and UNSW is interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald in respect to women in science.

    emma j IMG_1628.jpg

    Read the full article here



  • SIMS' Emma Johnston at the National Press Club


    The National Press Club hosted a critical "Women in Science" session yesterday and Director of the SIMS Sydney Harbour Research Program, Professor Emma Johnston was among the panel.

    Take a look through ABC iview





  • IMOS Newsletter


    Don't miss the latest edition of the IMOS Newsletter - Marine Matters



  • ABC Cataylst explores Micro Plastics


    In case you missed scientists from SIMS & UNSW, Dr. Mark Browne and Professor Emma Johnston this week on Catalyst, take a look via the link below to Dr Browne's research into micro plastics and their impact in the marine environment.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 10.24.13 AM



  • Coastal Currents


    The Autumn newsletter of the Sydney Coastal Councils Group is now available. Take a look at :


  • Critical research at SIMS fights to save oyster industry


    Dr Tim Green of Macquarie University and based at SIMS is running critical research trials investigating new immunity for oysters against the deadline POMS disease.

    Read the full story here

    cablepit research

  • Ocean Acidification and the Great Barrier Reef


    The Conversation


    An article in The Conversation by Kennedy Wolfe and Professor Maria Byrne from SIMS and the University of Sydney discussing their work on the Great Barrier Reef that shows (for the first time) that ocean acidification is already harming the growth of coral reefs in their natural setting.

    Read the full article here



  • Flowerpots on seawalls


    Article SMH, February 21, 2016


    Read how marine ecologist Rebecca Morris from University of Sydney and SIMS utilises specially designed flowerpots to attract and protect marine life.




  • Be a "scientist for a day"


    One of the most sought after prizes at the SIMS Foundation Emerald dinner is the opportunity to be a "Scientist for a Day", and after listening to the feedback from one of the winner's on water experience you'll understand why. Jen was a guest on the RV Bombora as she accompanied Dr. Tim Ingleton from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage on a fascinating field trip from Port Hacking to the IMOS National reference station where scientists have been monitoring ocean health for 70 years. Jen says...

    "As an offshore sailor who has spent many hours on top of the water, it is fascinating to gain a small insight into 'what lies beneath'  and to know that there are teams of passionate people keeping an eye on the human impact on our oceans.

    I really admire the integrated approach to research and sharing of results amongst the many institutions involved.

    Seeing the results of a collaboration that is working is one of the main reasons that I support SIMS.

    Keep up the great work and thank you once again."





  • Ocean harming microplastics


    Article, Huffington Post, 8/01/16


    The Huffington Post explores a recent announcement by environment minister, Greg Hunt, on the question of micro beads and micro plastics and their impact on our marine life and interviews Professor Emma Johnston from SIMS & UNSW on research in this area.





  • New IMOS Newsletter


    The 22nd issue of the IMOS Newsletter is now available and includes a host of interesting articles.

    Read the full newsletter by clicking on the link below.


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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.