The Cape York Peninsula lies in the far northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Marine Park. The peninsula is one of the most isolated regions of the Australian continent and little is known about what lies in the offshore deeper waters. Scientists consider these deeper waters to be a frontier area of the GBR. Sparse information from previous mapping expeditions indicates complex deep sea canyons, massive landslides, and detached mesophotic (deep) reefs rising from around 500 meters below the sea surface. However, why these detached reefs exist and the structure of the deep sea canyons are unknown and unexplored. Following two successful cruises – Visioning Coral Seas and Seamounts, Canyons, and Coral Reefs – Dr. Robin Beaman of James Cook University and his Co-PI Mardi McNeil will voyage aboard R/V Falkor for a third time. Their team will utilize mapping and ROV surveys to understand what lies in the northern depths of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s best-known reef systems, however its deep reef and canyon ecosystems are largely a mystery. ROV SuBastian will collect samples, sediment cores, and high-resolution imagery of deep canyons and reefs that extend down to 2,500m.