Get easy access to the Great Barrier Reef’s inshore reefs and islands, and work with our wealth of scientific resources, including climate-controlled research rooms, wet laboratories, a versatile saltwater aquarium system, and six aquarium raceways.

We are very proud to have hosted a diverse range of research including studies that examined:

  • The recovery of benthic communities from Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi
  • The role of herbivores in phase shifts
  • Interrelationships of fish and coral
  • Habitat use of sharks and rays
  • Coral disease
  • Coral bleaching
  • Coral genetics
  • The impact of stress on the calcifying machinery of corals, and
  • The effect of sedimentation on sponges.

Researcher Spotlight: Ana Barbosa Martins

Refining the ecological role of stingrays in coral reef ecosystems

Ana Barbosa Martins is a Brazilian PhD candidate based at James Cook University. Her education and career began in Brazil with an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences and a master degree in Biodiversity and Conservation from Universidade Federal do Maranhao. During her masters, Ana developed a successful research project focusing on the use of fisher and trader knowledge to describe the shark catch, produce a supply chain and evaluate perceptions regarding the regional conservation status of shark species in Northeastern Brazil.

Since moving to Townsville for her PhD in 2015, Ana is developing a research project named “Refining the ecological role of stingrays in coral reef ecosystems” under the supervision of Professor Colin Simpfendorfer, Dr Andrew Chin and Dr Michelle Heupel. This project aims to examine the role juvenile stingrays’ play in coral reef ecosystems and how important these ecosystems are to their populations. To answer these questions, Ana is integrating acoustic and GPS telemetry to assess juvenile stingray movement patterns and habitat use. In addition, Ana is using stable isotope analysis and non-lethal gastric lavages to evaluate juvenile stingrays and sharks trophic roles at Orpheus Island. According to Ana, the increasing human pressures on coral reefs is causing the fast decline of many stingray and shark populations. Thus, Ana expects that the results of her project could provide important insights for the development of efficient management and conservation strategies - not only to manage stingray or shark species as a fishing resource, but also to manage entire coral reef ecosystems.


Orpheus Island Research Station is well equipped to cater for your research group. Facilities include:

  • Five-star backpacker style accommodation
  • Fast wireless internet
  • A variety of vessels
  • A flow-through saltwater system, providing good quality seawater pumped through our lab areas that can be filtered as finely as 0.5µm
  • A variety of aquaria, raceways and tanks up to 5,000 litres capacity
  • Five temperature controlled rooms
  • An air conditioned dry lab supplied with various microscopes, scientific and analytical equipment
  • Field equipment
  • Wet lab
  • Dry Lab
  • Microscope room


Our larger vessel offers access to mid-shelf reefs such as Bramble and Rib Reefs for day trips. Three major marine science institutions - James Cook University, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - are based in nearby Townsville. Thus, a wealth of scientific resources including specialist expertise, libraries, laboratory facilities, collections, and technical support is close at hand.