A new nation-leading course offered at the city's university is producing seabed data that will inform offshore projects, fishing trends and even contribute to national security.
Hydrography students at Deakin University's Warrnambool Campus are tackling the region's unknowns with state-of-the-art mapping equipment.
Deakin School of Life and Environmental Sciences associate professor Daniel Ierodiaconou said students in the weeks-old program were producing nationally and regionally significant data.
"It's the first time in Australia this program has been offered to non-uniformed personnel," he said.
"Historically you'd have to be in the military to do this.
"Hydrography is changing, it used to be all about charting but now it's about environmental impacts and science.
"For example, we were able to go the Wave Energy site and map it before any of the infrastructure went in and work out the biodiversity values for that site.
"We collect quality data once and it gets used many times. Whatever we get on the open coast is used by the state and federal governments and gets built into programs. It can be used for things like tsunami modelling or coastal impact modelling.
"We've even done stuff like look at the genetics of fresh water species and these ancient connections where these rivers once flowed and can explain the population structure of the species in the present day.
"It's changing the way we do our science because we're still being influenced by these ancient shorelines."
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He said data was being used to support sustainability in the region.
"The abalone divers here are very well organised, they've got these machines where every abalone they get on deck get measurements and tracked," he said.
"What we did was integrate that GPS location data with the sea floor data to work out estimated biomass. Combining the data from industry with seafloor mapping data of the reef estate can assist with managing the fishery."
It's hoped students trained in the course will go on to work with various companies across Australia mapping sea floors.
Mr Ierodiaconou said graduates trained in the field were being snapped up for jobs of the future.
"There's a lot of work at the moment for surveyors of the exclusive economic zone, lots of work for the offshore energy or renewable sector and lots of consulting opportunities with companies," he said.
"There's a real shortage of people with these qualifications so they're getting snapped up."
Students interested in the course must have two years of study at a tertiary institution and complete a six month theory-based course before being allowed entry into the program.
They then work in partnership with IIC Technologies Limited at various locations including the nearby Hopkins River Estuary.
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