The most detailed study of the Kimberley coast ever undertaken is underway, with the first research vessel setting sail from Broome.
The $30 million Kimberley Marine Science Project will run over five years and involve more than 100 scientists.
The study will examine the best ways to manage marine parks and industrial development in the region.
The research vessel Solander left Broome on Monday for a field trip, with a team led by oceanographer Richard Brinkman.
Dr Brinkman says there is a huge amount of work ahead.
“This project is very ambitious,” he said.
“The Kimberleys are very remote and therefore very challenging to work in, so therefore we need a vessel like the Solander to be able to take us hundreds of miles, support us there for weeks, so it’s very ambitious.
“The goals are also very ambitious, to understand the threats facing the region.
“It can be challenging but the group on this cruise, we’ve worked together for about 15 years, so we’re quite a tight bunch and it makes it quite enjoyable.
“It’s very full-on, we often work for 24-hours-a-day in 12-16 hour shifts but it’s a good team environment.”