Algae bloom hot spot a fish feeding magnet

FRASER Coast seas have been identified as an algae bloom hot spot and fish feeding magnet by researchers at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and Griffith University.

Caused by ocean upwelling, a spectacle that involves the wind driving nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, the phenomenon plays a crucial role in the fishing industry by producing a readily available food source for yellow fin tuna and other marine species.

University of Southern Queensland Associate Professor in Climatology Joachim Ribbe, PhD research student Daniel Brieva and Griffith University scientists have been able to identify, document and name the ‘Southeast Fraser Island Upwelling System’ for the first time.

In their recently released academic paper titled ‘Is the East Australian Current causing a marine ecological hot-spot and an important fisheries near Fraser Island, Australia?’ the scientists show that the strengths and variability of the East Australian Current is the main cause of this upwelling system.

Dr Ribbe said that on average about eight algae blooms occurred each spring/summer season, occupying large areas of the continental shelf southeast of Fraser Island (see attached image).

“The blooms cover an area about the size of Hervey Bay or about 2000 to 3000 square kilometres. Each bloom lasts about one week.algae bloom

“Algae only bloom if nutrients and light are available. Usually, the surface ocean is low in nutrients but ocean upwelling delivers nutrient-rich water from deeper parts of the ocean back to the surface.

“Basically, ocean upwelling is fertilising the surface ocean and consequently plants start to grow and become available to the ocean food chain.”

Key ecological area

Dr Ribbe said the high marine productivity appears to support a valuable fisheries area.

“This key ecological area located southeast of Fraser Island is one of eight along the east coast of Australia.

“The surface ocean waters to the east of Australia are usually characterised by very low marine productivity. The supply of nutrients in very distinct regions leads to very high marine productivity.”

Dr Ribbe said more work was needed to investigate the bio-diversity of the region and the overall impact the algae blooms were having on the ocean environment.


Photo: University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Associate Professor in Climatology Joachim Ribbe lowers research equipment into water near Fraser Island.

Students celebrate at USQ Fraser Coast

A HUGE reception marquee set the scene to celebrate the end of studies for 2014 at University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Fraser Coast in November.

Student Representative Committee acting president Aaron Smith said the event was a “fantastic success” with almost 80 students enjoying a formal dinner and dancing the night away, knowing this year’s exams were over.

“The evening was held to celebrate the end of the academic year and as an awards night for students who had been nominated for various campus activities from the fun, strange and peculiar categories,” Mr Smith said.

“It was a fantastic success and everyone I spoke with was impressed and happy with the whole night. There was a great turnout.

“I would like to thank the 2014 SRC committee for all their dedicated help and to all the students for their support in purchasing tickets for the night.”


Mercy Tsenesa (left), Dee Woodgate, Michelle Denny, Devika Gaundar, Jennifer Gavino and Ibiye George.

Feature photo (top): Colin Matthias (left), Michelle Denny, Geoff Murray and Glenda Sutcliffe.

New education gateway for Fraser Coast

A NEW online gateway that promotes the Fraser Coast’s education opportunities from preschool to university has been welcomed by University of Southern Queensland.

USQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas congratulated the Fraser Coast Education Alliance on launching its new website titled Study Fraser Coast today, Tuesday December 16.

“This exciting initiative means local, national and international people can easily access detailed information about the Fraser Coast’s education opportunities online,” Professor Thomas said.

“It will be of particular interest to international exchange students and also gives study tour operators the opportunity to better prepare their programs to suit their clientele.”

The Fraser Coast Education Alliance is an education network involving the Fraser Coast Regional Council, state and independent schools, TAFE East Coast and USQ.

USQ Fraser Coast Executive Manager Brett Langabeer has been working closely with other local industry professionals and training providers within the Fraser Coast Education Alliance to create the new website.

“People are attracted to this region for its liveability and lifestyle but that doesn’t mean they need to compromise on quality educational experiences,” Mr Langabeer said.

“With this new online education gateway, anyone looking to relocate to the Fraser Coast will have easy access to information about education opportunities available in this region from preschool to university.

“Fraser Coast has all the fundamentals to become an education destination of choice.”

Mayor Gerard O’Connell said the advent Study Fraser Coast was a great example of regional collaboration.

“Education is at the very heart of making sure we’ve got good economic development and community development,” Mr O’Connell said.

“If you can train and educate your people, you can do a lot to arrest the flow of people, particularly young people, from this area, and you also provide employers and businesses with well-skilled staff.

“We’re seeing the Fraser Coast’s education opportunities continuing to improve in all sectors from preschool to university.

“USQ having a really strong campus in Hervey Bay, and now a presence in Maryborough, is not only a great tribute to the University but also to our region as it continues to mature.”

The website can be viewed at


Photo: Fraser Coast Education Alliance representatives (front l-r) Simon Boss-Walker, Brett Langabeer and Bradley Nardi, and (back l-r) Gerard O’Connell, Adam Hughes and Robert Garland launch Study Fraser Coast.