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    SIMS, achieving excellence in marine research, education and community engagement

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    SIMS, achieving excellence in
    marine research, education and
    community engagement.
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    SIMS, achieving excellence in
    marine research, education and
    community engagement.

Research themes

  • Urbanisation


    Sydney Harbour is Australia's largest, and most iconic, urbanised estuary. This makes SIMS an ideal place from which to understand, and help manage the pressures of urbanisation on the harbour and coastal ecosystems.

  • Biodiversity


    Sydney Harbour is one of the most biologically diverse harbours in the world. SIMS scientists are using both traditional and modern molecular techniques to expand our knowledge of this immense biodiversity.

  • Climate Change

    Climate Change

    The oceanography of the east coast of Australia is dominated by the East Australian Current. This current is increasing in strength making South-East Australia a global hot spot for climate change. SIMS is ideally placed for studying the causes and impacts of climate change in marine systems.

  • Ocean Resources

    Ocean Resources

    The ocean provides a wealth of resources for our use. SIMS scientists' research on the sustainable use of ocean resources is comparably broad, ranging from studies of the molecular mode of action of potential new pharmaceuticals to enhancing fish and prawn stocks along our coast.

  • Marine Management

    Marine Management

    From exploitation of key fisheries to conservation of endangered species, marine management relies on science to inform policy decisions. SIMS research is playing a critical role in managing our marine environment.

Bulletin board

  • Harbour Shark alarm: Acoustic network monitors our migrating marine life


    Macquarie University's & Sydney Institute of Marine Science Professor Robert Harcourt is writing for the Daily Telegraph as a scientist in Residence under an Australian Science Media Program.

    In this article he talks about The Sydney Gates as part of a network of acoustic data loggers being a constituent of the  integrated marine observing system and, how scientists are tagging animals to find out where they go, what they do and who with.

    To read the article please click here.


  • Beautiful but a threat - Tropical Fish destroy Kelp


    The migration of tropical fish as a result of ocean warming poses a serious threat to the temperate areas they invade, because they overgraze on kelp forests and seagrass meadows, a new study concludes.

    The harmful impact of tropical fish is most evident in southern Japanese waters and the eastern Mediterranean, where there have been dramatic declines in kelps.

    There is also emerging evidence in Australia and the US that the spread of tropical fish towards the poles is causing damage in the areas they enter.

    “The tropicalisation of temperate marine areas is a new phenomenon of global significance that has arisen because of climate change,” says study lead author, Dr Adriana Verges, of SIMS and the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

    Read the full detail at


  • Seafood Community Think Tank


    Over the coming weekend, Sydney will play host to the inaugural ‘Seafood Community Think Tank’. This two-day event will provide the opportunity for participants to think ‘out-of-the-box’ and develop fresh ideas, innovative solutions and new policy options for the future. 

    The event is the brainchild of a group of industry leaders who met through the National Seafood Industry Leadership Program in 2013.

    Funding and support for the event has been kindly provided by the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Sydney Fish Market, Greater Sydney Local Land Services and OceanWatch Australia.

    For further information contact Andy@oceanwatch.org.au


  • 2014 Fantasea Harbour Hike


    7th September 2014


    Hike to Help Our Harbour

     Harbour Hike Fantasea Harbour Hike, now in its fourth year aims to raise funds for the Sydney Harbour Research Program which is developing the science that will eagle us to look after our Harbour for future generations.

    Walk 12km of magnificent foreshore paths and come visit us at the SIMS tent in Clifton Gardens Reserve.  We're looking forward to seeing you.

    Registrations are now open at www.harbourhike.com



  • 2014 Emerald Dinner


    9th October, 2014


    The annual SIMS Emerald Dinner celebrating our unique coastal and marine environments will be held on 9th October 2014.

    At this year's dinner our Guest Speaker will be Don McIntyre, Recipient of the 2012 Australian Geographic Lifetime Adventure Award. 

    Come along and be part of what will be a riveting presentation of Don's adventures, everything from living in a box, chained to rocks at Mawson's Hut, to racing 27,000 nautical miles solo around the world, to a solo gyrocopter flight around Australia.

    Save the Date

    Save the date

  • Great reading in June newsletter


    Take a look at what's happening at SIMS in the latest Foundation Newsletter.

    It's a great way to stay in touch with your Institute.

    SIMS Foundation Newsletter 2014-06

    cruise 1

  • SIMS reaches out with video classes


    SIMS is excited to have delivered its first video conference lesson for regional schools through facilities provided by the Australian Museum, and thanks to the fantastic presentation delivered by Dr. Erik van Sebille an oceanographer at UNSW.

    Erik taught the children of Westlawn Public School Grafton about ocean currents through his account of the true story of 28,800 rubber ducks lost at sea.  The students were very engaged, exploring the issues of plastics in our oceans. 

    Take a look yourself at Erik's website http://www.adrift.org.au/#what

    Erik van Sebille

  • 2014 Tony Roach Prize


    SIMS and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) are pleased to announce the winner of the 2014 round of the Tony Roach Prize in Marine Environmental Science Lu Fan is honoured to receive the award this year for his paper "Marine microbial symbiosis heats up: the phylogenetic and functional response of a sponge holobiont to thermal stress".

    The prize is in memory of Dr. Tony Roach and his long career and contributions to marine science in New South Wales, and is awarded to the best paper by a young scientist on any aspect of marine or estuarine environmental science.



  • Take a look at SIMS


    Take a look at our new SIMS Video here



  • Slimy Harvest


    It's a $6 billion global industry and what's more, Australia has a natural advantage. But so far we've only just begun to explore the potential of our native seaweeds. 

    Marine systems ecologist, Dr Pia Winberg,  from SIMS associate member, the University of Woollongong wants Australia to engage with a $6 billion a year global seaweed industry. She says Australia has thousands of species of native seaweed with huge potential as food, medicine and agricultural products.

    Listen to a fascinating interview with Dr Winberg and ABC News here

  • View from beneath the waves


    For nearly two decades, Marine biologist Dave Harasti has dived the waters of the world. The self-taught photographer has built a huge collection of photographs, many of which have been published in scientific journals and books. There is even a soft-bodied marine mollusc known as a nudibranch named after him because he was the first to identify it.

    Harasti, 38, is embarking on a new project with his supervisor, UTS marine biologist Professor Bill Gladstone, to find out why the population has shrunk. He is asking recreational scuba divers who spot a seahorse to photograph it, to help uncover more about where the creatures live. And a new website, iSeahorse (www.iseahorse.org) encourages underwater photographers to upload their images to assist scientists in their research.

  • Fish provide insight to brain's effect on personality


    Macquarie’s Associate Professor Culum Brown and Dr Anne-Laurence Bibost first compared wild rainbowfish and captive rainbowfish. They then used a modified version of the mirror test to find out if a fish showed a lateral preference to view itself with either its left or right eye. Levels of boldness were tested by timing how long it took a fish to emerge from a safe hiding place.

    Read more: http://mq.edu.au/newsroom/2014/04/11/fearless-fish-give-new-insight-into-the-brains-effect-on-personality/#ixzz30tiRo0vo


  • Moby Dick still in trouble


    Despite positive news for whaling futures from the recent International Court of Justice decision, new research shows the real impact of whaling is most likely to be seen in the toothed whales – such as sperm whales – which are not recovering despite protection.

    sperm whale“In recent years we’ve seen some really encouraging news for humpback and southern right whales in Australian waters – almost to the extent where you could say they’re no longer endangered,” says lead researcher Professor Robert Harcourt. “But we can’t let these good news stories blind us to the fact that the other great whales are in real trouble – including the largest predator to have ever existed, Moby Dick himself,”

    Read more: http://mq.edu.au/newsroom/2014/04/11/30-years-post-whaling-no-evidence-for-sperm-whale-recovery-off-western-australia/#ixzz30tUpVyqa

  • Meet the man who loves rats!


    The largest rodent in Australia is amphibious, fills the same niche as an otter and could be used to get rid of the introduced black rat. ABC's Ann Jones meets the researcher Professor Peter Banks trying to find out more about the mysterious water rat. Read the full article here.

  • SIMS Masters has broad appeal


    Now in its third year, the SIMS Masters program in Marine Science and Management continues to grow.

    1240060_820674887945928_550548181_nCEO and Director of SIMS, Professor Peter Steinberg was recently interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald and pointed out that "the course is now attracting a significant number of students from Asia, South America, Europe and America…a sign that the course is getting international profile".

    Read the full article Oceans of data

Long Term Projects

Facility Upgrade

In 2009 SIMS received $19.5 M from the Commonwealth Education Investment Fund, further augmented by $1.2 M from The Ian Potter Foundation and the NSW Government Science Leveraging Fund, to enhance its facilities. These infrastructure grants have resulted in a world class marine facility.


SIMS operates the NSW node of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS). IMOS is a nation-wide collaborative program which uses the latest advances in technology to observe the oceans. The program has strong links with similar international programs and agencies.

Sydney Harbour Research Program

SIMS is conducting a multidisciplinary research project. The objectives are to identify, preserve and enhance the resilience of those species and habitats in Sydney Harbour that have high ecosystem and conservation value, and to enhance the capacity of relevant government departments to make key management decisions regarding the Harbour.