Marine Chemistry and Pollution

Key Contact

Dr Amanda Reichelt-Brushett
t: +61 2 6620 3250
f: +61 2 6620 2669

MERC researchers aim to enhance our understanding of the sources, fate and consequences of contaminants in our marine environment. Research and post graduate studies themes include contaminant studies in sediment and water, ecotoxicology, the development of bioindicators and risk assessment tools, marine waste disposal management, and rehabilitation of contaminated sites. Research on marine pollution and the development of risk minimisation strategies helps to enhance ecosystem resilience for the protection from the impacts of climate change.

The current focus of the tropical ecotoxicology program addresses the lack of standard test methods for tropical marine species. The establishment of efficient, reliable, repeatable, and relevant ecotoxicological testing and culturing methods for tropical marine species is urgently required for risk management and regulators. Our researchers are developing ecotoxicology methods for tropical marine species that will provide standard lethal and sub lethal test methods for environmental risk assessment. These new methods along with a multiple line of evidence approach to risk assessment are applicable to Australia and developing countries in the tropics such as Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It will help protect tropical marine ecosystems that are threatened by marine waste disposal from industries such as mining and agriculture.

In another project MERC researchers are also developing an integrated understanding of uptake and depuration of trace metals by corals and the associated role of zooxanthellae.

We are leading an international collaborative research project investigating oil pollution impacts in Antarctica, funded by grants and support totalling $1.3 million from the Australian Antarctic Division. This research is globally significant as it is providing the first detailed information on the effects oil pollution on critically important reproductive stages of marine invertebrate animals in Antarctica. We will be using this information to establish ecologically relevant water quality guidelines for shipping and other Antarctic operations to prevent serious damage from oil pollution in this important region.