Project 6.3 'Critical seabird foraging locations and trophic relationships for the Great Barrier Reef'

Project 6.3 'Critical seabird foraging locations and trophic relationships for the Great Barrier Reef'

Effective management of seabird populations on the Great Barrier Reef requires identifying the population-specific causes of current declines and their associated threatening processes. Without detailed information on foraging areas, resource use and links to oceanographic variation it is not possible to isolate or manage anthropogenic threats that occur outside of nesting colonies.

To date, we have trialled and successfully deployed a range of logging systems on foraging shearwaters in the southern GBR. This work has characterised shearwater foraging habitat at nearcolony scales and linked specific oceanographic parameters to levels of provisioning and reproductive success. At the broader meso-scale, studies in both the northern and southern GBR have provided preliminary data on links between seabird foraging success and specific ocean frontal systems, currents, bathymetry and upwelling phenomena. This research has also identified potential overlap between seabird foraging areas and blue-water billfish and tuna fishing activity outside of the GBR.

The current program will complement and considerably expand this previous work using already proven methodology.

Project objectives at a glance

  • Enlarge the shearwater program at the meso-scale to comprehensively sample ‘at distance’ foraging habitat used by GBR breeding shearwaters in both the GBR and Coral Sea regions.
  • For the first time, identify and sample foraging habitats used by GBR shearwaters between breeding seasons.
  • Add additional seabird species and colonies, specifically masked and brown boobies in the northern and southeastern GBR, so as to further identify overlap in critical foraging habitat within and among GBR taxa/populations.
  • Identify and map possible overlap between these foraging areas/resources and blue-water billfish and other commercial fishing activity.

Specific objectives and intended outputs of this Project are detailed in the NERP TE Hub Multi-Year Research Plan.

Final Report

Critical seabird foraging locations and trophic relationships for the Great Barrier Reef

Project Factsheet


Link to the Project 6.3 homepage on e-Atlas


Project Duration: 
1 Jul 2011 to 31 Dec 2014


Project People