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  • Comprehensive baseline environmental data for Storm Bay in south eastern Tasmania were required to inform the salmonid industry regarding site selection, to provide background environmental data before large-scale farming commences, and to support the development of a scientifically relevant and cost-effective environmental monitoring program. Storm Bay is a large deep bay that receives freshwater inflow from the River Derwent on its north-western boundary and exchanges water with Frederick Henry Bay on its north-eastern boundary. The eastern and western boundaries are defined by the Tasman Peninsula and Bruny Island, respectively, and the southern boundary connects with the Tasman Sea. This area is a mixing zone between the River Derwent outflow and oceanic waters. The oceanography in Storm Bay is complex and is characterized by considerable fluctuations in temperature, salinity and nutrients on variable temporal and spatial scales. This is due to the southerly extension of warm nutrient-depleted sub-tropical waters transported via the East Australian Current (EAC) down the east coast of Tasmania over summer, whilst the south and south-west coasts are influenced by cooler, nutrient-rich sub-Antarctic waters from the south and the Leeuwin Current from the north-west (Buchanan et al. 2014). The current project arose in response to the salmon aquaculture industry recognising the need for increased scientific knowledge to support ecologically sustainable development of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) farming operations in south-eastern Tasmania, particularly expansion into Storm Bay. The information provided will assist salmon companies to manage their operations in Storm Bay under varying environmental conditions. Our research has also provided the opportunity to investigate changes in water quality over a quarter of a century, as CSIRO investigated seasonal and inter-annual variability in chemical and biological parameters in Storm Bay during 1985-89. We sampled at the same “master station” in Storm Bay as CSIRO and used similar procedures where possible. Five sites were sampled monthly in Storm Bay for over five years from November 2009 to April 2015, except on rare occasions when weather conditions were unsuitable, and bimonthly at times in 2013 when external funding was not available. Site 1 was located at the mouth of the Derwent estuary and the entrance to Storm Bay, site 2 was in the same location as the ‘master site’ of a CSIRO study in 1985-88, site 3 was furthest offshore and provided the most information on oceanic currents influencing the bay, while sites 5 and 6 were requested by the salmon aquaculture industry as potential sites for expansion of salmon farming. Site 4 was further offshore and monitoring at this site was discontinued after three months because of insufficient time to collect samples from all sites in one day. An additional site, 9, at the entrance to Frederick Henry Bay was included from 18 July 2011 at the request of the Marine Farming Branch, Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE), to provide information on water quality coming from Frederick Henry Bay. Adjacent to, and largely unaffected by the River Derwent, Frederick Henry Bay is a large marine embayment with limited freshwater input from the Coal River at its northern boundary. ---------------------------------------------- See child records linked to this parent record for specific context and methodologies for each of the monitoring variables (phytoplankton, zooplankton, chlorophyll, pigment, nutrients, oceanography).

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    Water temperature, averaged across the water column, in Storm Bay followed a distinct seasonal cycle each year, reaching a low of 9 °C and a high of ~ 19 °C. Warmest temperatures were in February, followed by a gradual cooling throughout autumn to a winter minimum in August, then increasing again during spring. Across the sites, the median temperature varied little, with site 3, the most marine of the sites, showing the least spread in values. Median salinity varied little across Storm Bay, being slightly higher at sites 3 and 6, highlighting the marine nature of site 3 and the patterns of seawater circulation in Storm Bay. The lowest salinities were recorded at site 1, where less saline surface waters flow into the bay from the Derwent Estuary. Seasonally, salinity was highest in autumn, with slightly fresher water present in Storm Bay in spring. Some lower salinity values were recorded in July and August, suggesting the presence of less saline subantarctic water flowing into the bay, or freshwater flow from the Derwent. Glider transects show slight lower salinity in summer, then mild stratification in autumn to spring, especially in the shallow regions near the mouth of the Derwent.