Within Australia’s largest marine reserve, the recently established Coral Sea Marine Park, lies the Queensland Plateau, one of the world’s largest continental margin plateaus at nearly 300,000 square kilometers. The plateau contains 30 large coral atolls including the famed Osprey Reef, Lihou Reef, and Diamond Islets. Here a wide variety of reef systems range from large atolls and long banks to shallow coral pinnacles. Virtually unmapped and mostly unexplored beyond the shallower parts of these reefs, Dr. Robin Beaman, James Cook University, and a team of scientists from Geoscience Australia, The University of Sydney, and the Queensland Museum will work remotely with R/V Falkor to conduct unprecedented mapping and exploration of the Queensland Plateau. The expedition will provide insight into the geological evolution and biodiversity of Australia’s marine frontier.

Preliminary mapping of the Queensland Plateau suggests the presence of many enigmatic seabed features, including numerous drowned reef pinnacles and long meandering channels on the plateau surface. The team aims to completely map, in detail, the steeper reef flanks using high-resolution multibeam mapping, and also target these enigmatic seabed features. The ROV dives will help to determine the extent and depth of coral bleaching. Another mass bleaching event recently took place that resulted in scientists finding more than half of the coral reefs bleached beyond the Great Barrier Reef in early March. This expedition will provide an opportunity to look at the mesophotic or deeper reef to see how extensive the bleaching is, and if these reefs could act as a potential refugia for the Great Barrier Reef.

ROV SuBastian Dive 354 – Coral Sea Marine Park – Osprey Reef, Queensland Plateau
Date: May 1, 2020 (01.05.2020)
Location: Osprey Reef, part of the Queensland Plateau, NE Australia
Estimated Maximum Depth: 1500m
Work Completed: This is the first dive of the expedition. ROV SuBastian will be doing an exploratory dive around Osprey Reef, part of the Queensland Plateau off the east coast of Australia. The team of scientists and researchers plan on connecting remotely from land to explain what we are seeing as well as direct the dive plan. 

ROV SuBastian Dive 355 – Coral Sea Marine Park – Osprey Reef, Queensland Plateau
Date: May 2, 2020 (02.05.2020)
Location: Osprey Reef, part of the Queensland Plateau, NE Australia
Estimated Maximum Depth: 1000m
Work Completed: This is the second dive of the expedition. ROV SuBastian will be doing an exploratory dive beginning at the north corner of Osprey Reef off the east coast of Australia on the Queensland Plateau. The dive will start at approximately 1000m and work its way up the reef. The team of scientists and researchers plan on connecting remotely from land to explain what we are seeing as well as direct the dive plan. 

ROV SuBastian Dive 357 – Coral Sea Marine Park – Holmes Reef Queensland Plateau
Date: May 6, 2020 (06.05.2020)
Location: Holmes Reef (West), part of the Queensland Plateau, NE Australia
Estimated Maximum Depth: 900m
Work Completed: This is the third dive of the expedition. ROV SuBastian will be doing an exploratory dive, starting at approximately 900m and working its way up the reef. The team of scientists and researchers plan on connecting remotely from land to explain what we are seeing as well as direct the dive plan. 

ROV SuBastian Dive 358 – Coral Sea Marine Park – South Flinders Reef Queensland Plateau
Date: May 9, 2020 (09.05.2020)
Location: South Flinders Reef, part of the Queensland Plateau, NE Australia
Estimated Maximum Depth: 1000m
Work Completed: This is the fourth dive of the expedition. ROV SuBastian will be doing an exploratory dive, starting at the western side of South Flinders Reef at approximately 1000m and work up the side of reef. The team of scientists and researchers plan on connecting remotely from land to explain what we are seeing as well as direct the dive plan.