Predicted seafloor habitats in the Oceanic Shoals Marine Park

Multiple field campaigns have collected high resolution survey data in the Oceanic Shoals Marine Park (see 'What do we know about the Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve?'). While this fine-scale data is valuable, managers need a map showing what lives on the sea floor (i.e., benthic habitats) across the entire Oceanic Shoals Marine Park. To address this need, researchers from Australia's National Environmental Science Program's (NESP) Marine Biodiversity Hub's D1 project built a benthic habitat map for the Marine Park using spatial predictive modelling (a scientist's way of 'filling in between the dots' of survey data using educated guesses). Read about how this was done, along with a guide to its limitations and how it should be used appropriately.

The habitat map was based on predictions of the probability that each of 12 broad classes of benthic organisms exists in each location across the Marine Park. Click on the links in the table below to see interactive maps showing the probability that each benthic class listed above exists across the Oceanic Shoals Marine Park. Values in these maps range from 0 (benthic class does not exist - dark brown) to 1 (100% chance that the benthic class exists - dark turquoise). Note that more than one benthic class can exist together in a given location as you compare the maps.

Unknown or bare

(This means there is nothing alive that we can detect.)

Alcyon

(An Alycon is a type of soft coral.  Soft corals do not build reefs.)

Burrowers and crinoids

(Burrowers are creatures that live in the sand or mud on the sea floor.  Crinoids look like feathery sea stars.)

Filter feeders

(A filter feeder catches things to eat by siphoning them from the water.)

Gorgonian

(A gorgonian is a soft coral with a tree like skeleton.)

Halimeda

(Halimeda is a green macro-algae that is usually found in shallow waters, especially near coral reefs.)

Hard coral

(A hard coral is made of many tiny creatures called polyps that work together to form colonies and reefs.)

Macro-algae

(Macro-algae are seaweed large enough to see without a microscope.  They do not have roots, leafy shoots or flowers.)

Soft coral

(Soft coral do not build reefs.  They are soft and flexible and often look like plants.  Examples include sea fingers and sea whips.)

Seagrass

(Seagrass is a grass-like plant that lives in the sea.)

Sponge

(A sponge has a soft body with no backbone that absorbs water. Hard fibers throughout its body give it shape.)

Whip

(A whip is a soft coral that grows as in a long thin shape, attached at the base to a rock.)

How to use the map

Click this button (third from top on the left hand side of the map) to see the map metadata.