Research Vessel Bombora

The RV Bombora is the best purpose-built nearshore marine research vessel in Australia. The vessel is being used for marine research in NSW waters.

The vessel can work in coastal lakes, estuaries, rivers and nearshore waters up to 100 nautical miles offshore. The RV Bombora also has the capacity to travel to Lord Howe Island, which is 350 nautical miles offshore. It can carry up to 10 people and operate under extreme weather conditions.

RV Bombora is owned by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and was built in 2009 by Steber International, a Taree-based, family-owned and operated company.

Oceanographic studies

While underway, RV Bombora can collect information about water temperature, salinity, currents, chlorophyll content and coloured dissolved organic matter. This information can be used to:

  • track changes in water quality
  • map marine productivity
  • understand impacts of coastal river outflows on our coastal habitats
  • track dispersal of pollutants.

The vessel has the capability to sample water (pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, salinity, temperature, nutrients, plankton) using a carousel of water bottles that can be lowered to 200 metres below the surface.

Habitat mapping

The RV Bombora is equipped with state-of-the art instruments so it can map the bathymetry and hardness of the seafloor. This information is used to generate habitat maps of the seabed which are used to:

  • better estimate the distribution of seabed structure and marine life
  • document and monitor community composition and extent of specific habitats
  • help assess the effectiveness of the marine park system and zoning arrangements.

Habitat maps are produced using a swath system (which maps the seabed in swaths or sweeps), towed underwater cameras and other oceanographic instruments.

RV Bombora provides better, high-resolution seabed habitat information over a much bigger area than was previously available. Video of the seabed is used to ground-truth the system and identify dominant seabed communities. So far, about 840 square kilometres of seabed along the New South Wales coast has been mapped using this system.

Other work

RV Bombora is also involved in hydrographic work to assess coastal hazards.

Bombora means reef or underwater island in the D'harawal language. The D'harawal language is local to the vessel's home port of Port Hacking.