Opportunistic visual surveys were conducted in transit to, and within, the Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR) in the Timor Sea during September and October 2012 onboard the RV Solander. This resource comprises species lists and estimated counts of marine mammals, sea snakes, seabirds, sea turtles and other large wildlife encountered during the voyage. The Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve survey was undertaken as an activity within the Australian Government's National Environmental Research Program Marine Biodiversity Hub and was the key component of Research Theme 4 - Regional Biodiversity Discovery to Support Marine Bioregional Plans. Hub partners involved in the survey included the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Geoscience Australia, the University of Western Australia, Museum Victoria and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Data acquired during the survey included: multibeam sonar bathymetry and acoustic backscatter; sub-bottom acoustic profiles; physical samples of seabed sediments, infauna and epibenthic biota; towed underwater video and still camera observations of seabed habitats; baited video observations of demersal and pelagic fish, and; oceanographic measurements of the water column from CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) casts and from deployment of sea surface drifters. Further information on the survey is available in the post-survey report published as Geoscience Australia Record 2013/38: Nichol, S.L., Howard, F.J.F., Kool, J., Stowar, M., Bouchet, P., Radke, L.,Siwabessy, J., Przeslawski, R., Picard, K., Alvarez de Glasby, B., Colquhoun, J., Letessier, T. & Heyward, A. 2013. Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve (Timor Sea) Biodiversity Survey: GA0339/SOL5650 - Post Survey Report. Record 2013/38. Geoscience Australia: Canberra. (GEOCAT #76658).
Opportunistic scan surveys for air-breathing vertebrates were carried out both within, and in transit between, sampling areas. Whenever possible, radial distances and absolute bearings to sightings were measured using compass-fitted Bushnell 7x50 reticle binoculars, and the animals’ locations inferred from the known height of the viewing platform (top deck of the vessel RV Solander, 7 m above water line), time-stamped computer records of the ship’s GPS coordinates and established trigonometry theory. Group size, group composition (if identifiable), and dominant behaviours were logged for each species.