SeaBotix Australia technician David Whillas was recently part of a collaborative effort in the Coral Sea of Queensland. The combined team included members from both the James Cook University and the University of Queensland with David assisting. Located in the Coral Sea of Queensland are the Holmes and Flora Reefs, which were of particular interest.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science kindly donated the use of their two SeaBotix LBV systems equipped with high resolution color cameras, grabber arm and powerful LED lighting. David piloted the LBV with tasks to explore the sea floor habitat including identification of various types of corals down to 150 meters (500ft). Each day the LBV was tasked to dive down the near vertical walls of the reef and inspect and collect samples. Several samples of rock were collected at depths of 150 meters (500ft) for later carbon dating.
Of particular interest for expedition leaders Thomas Bridge and Pim Bongaerts were the many types of deep water corals that exist in this area. Part of the study includes investigating the genetic connectivity of these particular corals. Also of great interest was the general topography of the sea floor at the 100-120 meter (328-394ft) depth where the sea level was during the last ice age 20,000 years ago.