Nov. 27 - Marine scientists from around the world have converged on tiny Maria Island, off the coast of Tasmania, Australia, for a workshop to share research on how human activity is affecting marine diversity around the world. Rob Muir reports.
There are few more remote or tranquil locations than Maria Island off Tasmania's east coast but for a group of twenty marine researchers it's the ideal environment for intensive and potentially ground-breaking work, according to the University of Tasmania's Rick Stuart-Smith. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RICK STUART-SMITH - UNIVERSITY OF TASMANIA, SAYING: "We've come over here to lock up a bunch of international scientists to help us analyse the reef life survey data set." The Reef Life Data set comprises information collected by trained volunteer scuba divers from 1,800 sites in 36 countries. They recorded fish populations and coral and seaweed coverage on local reefs, for comparison with data from previous years. The Scripps Institution's Ed Parnell says the survey gives the broadest possible view. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ED PARNELL - SCRIPPS INSTITUTION OF OCEANOGRAPHY, SAYING: "This is a unique opportunity to see how things are doing globally. So it's kind of taking the temperature of these shallow water environments across the world." (SOUNDBITE) (English) RICK STUART-SMITH - UNIVERSITY OF TASMANIA, SAYING: "It's actually one of the best resources in the world for this sort of information. Nobody's been able to address some of the questions that we're going to address at this workshop." Specifically, they'll be addressing the impact of over-fishing, climate change and pollution on the world's oceans. But it's not all hard work. The scientists are making time to see the local wildlife as well. And while the echinda could never be described as a marine creature, this one at least seemed sympathetic to the researchers' goals.