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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

18 April 2002

World First View of Underwater World

Today, Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, invited Australians to take a virtual deep-sea tour of Australia's southeast ocean seabed.

This virtual deep-sea tour was made possible by the National Oceans Office Regional Marine Planning Program and the collaboration of the National Oceans Office with CSIRO Marine Research and Geoscience Australia. The result is computer technology that creates an exciting simulated view of the south's seafloor and its amazing geographical features.

It allows viewers to 'fly' through the previously unexplored territories of the subantarctic waters off Macquarie Island, around Tasmania and Victoria, and up to the temperate waters off New South Wales.

"What technology has allowed us to do today is to travel four kilometres below the ocean's surface to explore unique geographical features in an area we previously knew very little about," Dr Kemp said when launching the flythrough today.

The computer-simulated view covers some two million square kilometres of Australia's southeast ocean. It shows how water flowing off Australia's continental shelf has created a series of canyons which scientists believe may be home to undiscovered species. The survey also revealed for the first time a number of extinct underwater volcanoes off the southeast coast of Tasmania.

"The ocean is one of the greatest unexplored territories on earth. What has been discovered in the South-east ocean is a world of new habitats and previously undescribed species including giant sea spiders, octopus, fish, crabs, corals and worms," Dr Kemp said.

"Some habitats and species may have the potential to provide an economic return in the fishing, biotechnology and marine research and education industries.

"Based on these new insights we can better manage how we use, enjoy and conserve these waters," Dr Kemp said.

The information is a key outcome of the South-east Regional Marine Planning Process - the first management plan in the Coalition's Australia's Oceans Policy, which seeks to better understand and manage Australia's 11 million square kilometres of territorial waters.

Australia's Oceans Policy sets a world-leading framework for ensuring the long-term health of Australia's oceans by sustainably managing the use and conservation of marine resources.

For a copy of the flythrough, or more information on the South-east Regional Marine Plan, please contact the National Oceans Office on (03) 6221 5000, or visit the National Oceans Office web site:

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640

Commonwealth of Australia