Marine Monitoring

Twice daily the Underwater Observatory Tour Guides survey marine life observed from the Underwater Observatory windows.  The survey includes many species of bony and cartilaginous fishes, mobile invertebrates, mammals and birds many of which are endemic to the South West of Australia. This bioregion generally hosts temperate marine organisms but due to the effect of the Leeuwin Current other species which tend to more tropical habitats are occasionally seen.  Oceanographic observations are also taken and include tidal state, weather observations and visibility estimates.

It is hoped that these observations are used by research scientists to better understand fish and invertebrate biology in terms of migrations, spawning times, species distribution and feeding interactions.

For further information on individual species, please browse the Fish Finder pages.  If you would like a species list or data from the Daily Marine Life survey, please contact our Environment Manager for more information: 

Water temperatures have been measured every hour under the Busselton Jetty since 2001, providing a very extensive data set going back over twenty years — it is one of the longest-running temperature monitoring programmes in Western Australia. The water temperatures are recorded hourly at about 4m depth using self-recording temperature loggers which are accurate to ~± 0.2°C. Apart from the value in showing the strong seasonal temperature cycles in Geographe Bay and year-to-year changes in temperature, they also helped to capture data relating to an extreme ocean warming event in 2011 where a pool of very warm water travelled down the length of Western Australia’s coastline with quite severe impacts on marine life in all parts of the state. Water temperatures at the jetty reached a record high value of 25.6 ˚C in late February 2011, almost 4°C above the long-term average temperature for February. In the near future the Busselton Jetty temperature recordings will ‘go live’ so users will be able to access real time data via this website. 

For information on the 2011 marine heatwave please read Fisheries Research Report 222 A. Pearce et al (2011) The “marine heatwave” off Western Australia during the summer of 2010/2011 online at

Each day, on the walk out the Underwater Observatory, the Tour Guides diligently pick up and dispose of litter that is left by irresponsible jetty users.  All types of litter are encountered – camping chairs, fishing line, clothing, food packaging, beer bottles and cigarette butts. On one occasion an entire tent was removed from the water! All of this litter becomes marine debris when it leaves our jetty and enters the water column. Tangaroa Blue is also a not-for-profit organisation focused on the health of our marine environment and coordinates the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, an on-ground network of volunteers, communities, organisations and agencies around the country monitoring the impacts of marine debris along their stretch of coastline.

Visit for more information on how you can help the Australian Marine Debris Initiative.