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    SIMS, achieving excellence in
    marine research, education and
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    OEH NSW Adaptation Hub
    Coastal Processes & Responses Node
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    SIMS at work

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

  • Boat moorings & marine life


    Sydney Harbour boat moorings are impacting seafloor marine life, ABC News Article

    Video survey within a seagrass bed

    Sydney Harbour is home to about 17,000 recreational boat users, amounting to 8 per cent of registered vessels across the state.

    The NSW Government is looking at how to improve boat storage without hurting the environment.

    Researchers from UNSW Researchers from the UNSW and the SIMS have begun intensive surveys of the sea floor at six sites from Manly in Sydney's north, to Watson's Bay in the east. The project is expected to last three years.

    Read the full article 



  • 2015 Tony Roach Award


    SIMS and the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) are pleased to announce the 2015 Tony Roach Prize in Marine Environmental Science.   The prize is in memory of Dr. Tony Roach and his long career and contributions to marine science in New South Wales. 

    The prize will be given to the best paper by a young scientist on any aspect of marine or estuarine environmental science. The winner will be decided by a selection panel of SIMS and OEH scientists, and will receive a cash award of $1500.  The 2015 award will be presented in April/May 2015, for papers published in 2014.

    For full details of the application process see below.


  • Concrete Coastlines: Time to tackle marine urban spawn


     Urban sprawl has spread to the sea, as more and more man-made structures are being built along the world's coastlines. Just as we do on land, we need to think about how to build sustainably at sea.

    the conversation marine urban sprawl

    Read the full Conversation article, authored by SIMS/UNSW scientists Dr. Kathryn Dafforn, Professor Emma Johnston, Dr. Mariana Mayer-Pinto, and Dr. Joanne Banks from SIMS  here.


  • Employment -World Harbour Project Research Associate


    Closing Date for Applications - 21 March 2015


    SIMS is seeking to employ a Research Associate to manage and conduct research projects as part of a SIMS funded research project -the World Harbour Project. This position will also involve the development of new grants and/or commercial research projects and preparation of data for publication.

    For a full position description please see link below.

    WHP Research Associate PD[1]

  • Predicting Storm Erosion Recovery


    25th March 2015, 3 -4 pm, 59 Goulburn Street Sydney, or via webnair


    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.  

    OEH are hosting this great free seminar from Professor Ian Turner from University of NSW and SIMS.

    Along NSW’s coastlines, the primary defence to erosion by storms is an adequate beach and dune buffer. Currently we zone a 'sacrificial' setback to accommodate the natural processes of erosion recovery while protecting the built or natural environment. But how wide should a coastal buffer zone be? How much can this vary within and between adjacent embayments? And critically, how reliable are our present coastal engineering modelling tools currently used to predict this?

    This seminar will discuss the findings of a recent study into our ability to predict storm erosion in NSW and will have wide general appeal.

    RSVP to heather.stevens@environment.nsw.gov.au

  • Great reading in December newsletter


    Take a look at what's happening at SIMS in the latest Foundation Newsletter.

    It's a great way to stay in touch with your Institute.

    SIMS Foundation Newsletter December 2014

    baby seahorses 

  • Marine sites to be studied


    A year-long study to begin early in 2015 into new conservation areas for the Sydney region could lead to the creation of marine protection parks in an area stretching from Newcastle to Wollongong.

    The 11 sites in the Hawkesbury Shelf bioregion to be monitored in the study announced by the Baird government, include parts of Sydney Harbour, Broken Bay, Botany Bay and Port Hacking. 

    marine sites to be studied

    Environment Minister Rob Stokes said the research at these priority sites would "inform decision making about the creation of an integrated marine protected area along the metro coast by 2016".

    Read the full SMH article 

  • AdaptNSW


    Take some time to explore the new OEH, Adapt NSW website : Understanding and adapting to climate change impacts in New South Wales.

    There are some excellent resources, including some insightful videos. Learn what you can expect for NSW, and your local region using the NSW Climate Change Projections modelling available at:




  • Work Experience 2014


    The SIMS / University of Sydney Institute of Marine Science (USIMS) work experience program saw fourteen enthusiastic (and exhausted) year 10 students leaving the program armed with a suite of new skills and a re-ignited passion for the marine world.

    During this week, students participated in a series of field and lab based activities related to research themes and disciplines spanning the marine sciences spectrum, from intertidal ecology to marine robotics, and everything in between. Most importantly, the program provided opportunities for students to connect with scientists and experience real-world marine science research and careers. 

    A big thanks to the students for their hard work and commitment during the week, and to the scientists at SIMS, USIMS and NSW DPI (Fisheries) for sharing their knowledge. 

  • SIMS onboard maiden voyage of RV Investigator


    Investigator is the new Marine National Facility flagship research vessel. Members of the UNSW Fisheries and Marine Environmental Research Facility (FAMER) were recently invited aboard the Investigator for its first ever-scientific voyage. During this voyage, the vessel’s state of the art equipment was used to explore the physical and biological oceanographic features of the shelf break off Maria Island, Tasmania. UNSW's Professor Iain Suthers was the chief investigator for this voyage. 


  • Unilever says it will ban face scrub product polluting harbour in two months


    A global consumer company says in two months it will start phasing out a facial scrub ingredient polluting Sydney Harbour.

    The push back against tiny microscopic plastic beads used in scrubs and exfoliants, along with other plastic fragments is to be stepped up, with scientists about to start examining if they are accumulating in fish regularly consumed by humans.

    Consumers can also vote as they shop by downloading a phone app to scan barcodes on scrubs and exfoliating creams to check whether they contain the harmful polyethylene microbeads.

    The plastics, smaller than half a millimetre, have been found in sediment in the harbour and can be ingested by worms which are in turn consumed by fish. At Middle Harbour scientists found 60-100 particles of plastic micro debris in 100 ml of sediment – among the highest levels recorded in the world.

    Read more here.

  • Launch World Harbour Project


    The SIMS led, World Harbour Project was officially launched by the Hon. Rob Stokes, Minister for the Environment and Heritage at the IUCN World Parks Congress on 17th November.

    Minister Stokes 1.jpg

    SIMS CEO, Peter Steinberg described the aims of the project to the large audience.  While international partners Dr Ricardo Coutinho from Rio De Janeiro and Prof. He Qing from Shanghai conveyed the critical importance of this global research project. SIMS would like to thank all supporters who attended the launch. We look forward to your involvement along the path of the project's development.




  • Birthing Unit at SIMS


    The term "water birth" took on a whole new meaning at SIMS last week when three proud dads gave birth to 337 baby seahorses in the research aquarium.

    UTS Honours student, Scott McCormack who is studying the White Seahorse as part of a research project into the impacts of climate change, discovered his project was the focus of attention last week as SIMS staff flocked to observe the birthing process.

    baby seahorses

  • World Harbour Project


    Like Sydney, many of the world’s major cities are situated on the coast or on large estuaries.  These waterways are part of the fundamental fabric of these cities, and the interaction between the cities' residents and the marine and estuarine environment is critical to the functioning of these urban centres. 

    The SIMS led, World Harbour Project will link researchers and managers on a global scale to address the challenges faced by urban marine environments.


    SIMS was honoured to host representatives from over 14 international partner organisations for the inaugural workshop .  The workshop was a resounding success and really set the way forward for what will be an incredibly valuable global project.



  • Major successes for SIMS scientists


    Success in ARC Funding 

    SIMS congratulates all our scientists who were successful in the recent round of Australian Research Council Discovery grants and Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards.  Scientists from all four of SIMS founding universities were successful, on projects ranging from the ecogenetics of marine organisms and their responses to climate change, to microbial oceanography, to predicting coastal erosion. Further details of these world class research projects can be found on the Australian Research Council’s website at http://www.arc.gov.au/applicants/fundingoutcomes.htm


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. Project Partners : Abu Dhabi, Australia, Brazil, Greece, Grenada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Qingdao, Shanghai, Singapore, Spain, USA


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.