Education & Extension

The last half of the 20th Century has seen a greater awareness of the effects of anthropogenic impacts, and the need to minimise them throughout the fishing industry and wider communities.

In order to satisfy the demand of the fishing industry and the wider community for more information, SARDI Aquatic Sciences has created this website for retrieval of information, but also to include information about the important research carried out by the organisation.

Complementing these activities, SARDI Aquatic Sciences also undertakes the supervision and mentoring to tertiary undergraduate and postgraduate students.

University Student Training: summer scholarships at Aquatic Sciences

SARDI Aquatic Sciences’ role in South Australia is unique. Being the premier aquatic sciences research and development organisation, SARDI is a major employer of graduates from local and interstate fisheries and aquatic sciences educators. Because of this, aquatic sciences is a popular location for students at all levels, to gain experience in fisheries research, aquaculture and ecological research.

Since its inception, SARDI Aquatic Sciences personnel have acted as external supervisors to over a hundred university Honours students, several Masters students and dozens of PhD students from local and interstate universities. Because of the unique facilities available only at the SA Aquatic Sciences Centre, many students undertake the practical aspects of their studies at the centre.

Local students have access to participate in research through the Summer Scholarships for tertiary students. For more information about Aquatic Sciences university student training activities contact, Chief, Aquatic Sciences.

Summer scholarships are designed to enable high achieving students to participate in research by undertaking a small research project, supervised by Aquatic Sciences Staff.

Summer Scholarships

Each summer (December to February), SARDI Aquatic Sciences offers up to three scholarships to outstanding undergraduate science students from South Australian Universities to enhance and facilitate student development.  As part of SARDI’s alliance with the Fisheries Research Branch of DPIVic, these scholarships are also open to students at Victorian universities that have an affiliation with DPIVic.

The aim is to assist students in the transition from the university environment by giving them an idea of the range of activities and jobs they may be exposed to as a scientist.  During the six-week scholarship, it is expected that the students will undertake a minor project including library research, experimental design and implementation, and preparation of a written report.  Students will be based at SARDI West Beach, or in some instances at another SARDI Aquatic Sciences location, for the duration of the project.

Scholarships will be paid to the University Department through which students apply. A stipend of A$1500 will be paid to cover the student’s personal costs. It is expected that the University will cover the usual insurance costs for students. During the project, SARDI Aquatic Sciences will cover all field and logistic costs.

Applications will be called in September of each year, and students should apply in writing by the nominated date in late September through the Head of a relevant Department of their University. Applications will be assessed and successful applicants will then be notified in writing by mid October each year.

If you are a student presently enrolled in tertiary courses and are interested in taking part, please respond by contacting the Chief, Aquatic Sciences.

Top-Up Scholarships

The Great Australian Bight Research Program is a partnership initiative that involves BP, CSIRO, SARDI, the University of Adelaide and Flinders University. The $20M, four-year, multi-disciplinary, multi-agency research program aims to improve our understanding of the environmental, economic and social value of the Great Australian Bight ecosystem.

Top-ups for Australian Postgraduate Award or Divisional (PhD) scholarships are available in 2014/15 for the following areas within the research program:

  • Seasonal variation in primary productivity and food web dynamics in a coastal upwelling system: the eastern Great Australian Bight.
  • Deepwater pelagic ecology revealed through acoustic and optical sensing.
  • Systematics, phylogentics and biogeography of deep-sea amphipods/isopods.
  • Understanding the provenance of South Australian asphaltites and tar balls and their potential implications for the petroleum systems of the Great Australian Bight: mapping the spatial and geochemical relationships.
  • Developing a baseline understanding of the social and community structure and resilience in the Eyre Peninsula and West Coast region of South Australia.
  • The contribution of whale, dolphin, great white shark and seal-based recreation and tourism to regional economies.

The PhD top-up scholarships are for $15,000 per annum (for 3 years), with $10,000 to augment the scholarship and $5,000 for operating.

The successful applicant will be required to enter into a formal agreement setting out specific terms and conditions governing their participation in the Great Australian Bight Research Program.

For more details on these terms and conditions please contact Associate Professor Tim Ward, Research Director Great Australian Bight Research Program, SARDI:, (08) 8207 5433.

Applications will remain open until filled, but those received by May 31, 2014 will receive full consideration.

Please see document attached for further information, Top-up PhD scholarships available

or visit:

Community Monitoring

SARDI participates in many projects that enable the community to contribute to the monitoring of the local environment while raising the profile of aquatic issues within their community.

Community-Based Monitoring Projects

Many coastal-based community groups are looking for projects which will enable them to contribute to the monitoring of their local environment and at the same time raise the profile of aquatic issues within their local communities. Community-based monitoring projects are an excellent way of achieving this.

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) Aquatic Sciences, has identified community-based monitoring as an effective tool for promoting both the scientific work done by SARDI and, at the same time, raising community awareness of marine issues in South Australia by involving the community in a hands on participatory way.

What does community-based monitoring provide?

Community based-monitoring provides a number of benefits. These include:

  • empowering the community with the ability to actively participate in the preservation of their local environment

  • creating partnerships between groups that otherwise would not have occurred (eg between researchers and residents, local environment groups, industry or educational institutions)

  • a cost effective method of collecting baseline environmental data that benefits not only researchers, but represents a powerful educational tool for raising community awareness

  • improve local management of an area, either by the direct participation of local shires or councils or through community pressure brought about by a better understanding of local environmental issues.

SARDI's role

SARDI's commitment to community-based monitoring has been to dedicate a person to the role of a community based educator, who provides a focus for all enquiries, acts as a source of information and importantly, provides liaison between scientific researchers and community groups. The role of SARDI is to provide the following:

  • identification of relevant local and regional marine issues
  • identification of the relevant and appropriate sampling methodology
  • supervision and training of community groups to undertake surveys
  • assistance with interpretation, analysis and presentation of data and database management
  • assistance with interpretation, communication and promotion of results to the wider community.

Involvement of a recognised research organisation such as SARDI also provides scientific validity and credibility to the monitoring results and importantly, a direct link to government management agencies.

Community-based monitoring is not part of SARDI’s core business and hence, is reliant on external funding. To date, SARDI has received funding for several community-based monitoring projects under the Commonwealth Government funding programs such as CoastCare, FishCare and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Current and past projects

The Environment and Ecology Program has coordinated or assisted with several community monitoring and education projects with the aid of Commonwealth Government funding programs, FISHCARE (administered by the Department of Primary Industries and Energy and COASTCARE (administered by Environment Australia).  They include the following:

Port Noarlunga Reef Underwater Trail - the establishment of South Australia's first underwater marine interpretation trail, involving input from major local interest groups in the design and long term management of the trail. SARDI coordinated and undertook the project with the assistance of a Community Liaison Committee of relevant stakeholder groups. A detailed report is available from SARDI Aquatic Sciences.

Ocean Litter Surveys - a project to quantify the type, amount and source of ocean-based litter washed ashore on remote beaches of South Australia. SARDI researchers were assisted by students and teachers from local area schools, local residents and members of local fishing industries. SARDI coordinated and undertook the project with this community assistance while managing the litter database and providing the participants with the results for educational activities. In 2007, this project was handed over entirely to the local community, and a web-based tool provided for data reporting and analysis (external link).

Reef Watch - a project to encourage recreational divers to conduct a long term monitoring program to measure the impact of human activities on popular dive sites close to metropolitan Adelaide and other nearshore reefs in South Australia. SARDI’s role was to provide technical advice to community groups (i.e. SA Conservation Council) in the survey design and the selection of key indicator organisms/ species.
Contact the Conservation Council of SA (external site) for more information.  
For more information, go to Reef Watch (external site).

The future

The possibility exists to expand other community based monitoring projects to encompass other areas of importance or to include other interest groups. The impetus may come from the need for information from the researchers or a desire by a community group to become more actively involved in looking after their local environment.

Whatever the reason, the benefits are such that all possible avenues of community involvement should be pursued, for the benefit of all concerned. 

For further information write to PO Box 120, Henley Beach SA 5022.