Monitoring the environment

Our floating laboratory

Boosting Victoria’s front line of defence in marine protection

YouTube video

bar-ba-ka broadens our marine monitoring capabilities through monthly monitoring at our long-term fixed sites, investigating marine issues, responding to environmental emergencies, identifying pollution hotspots and managing compliance investigations.

The boat is moored at Williamstown, to allow quick access to Port Phillip Bay.

EPA worked closely with the Boon Wurrung community and Aboriginal cultural consultants to name our boat bar-ba-ka, which means 'porpoise'.

Equipment and capability


bar-ba-ka houses a ‘floating lab’ with onboard monitoring and sampling equipment. It can also deploy scientific equipment such as instrument moorings (anchored sensors) and towed vehicles for detailed underwater assessments. The wide platform allows deployment of large equipment such as automated underwater vehicles, and it can act as a support vessel for diver investigations.

A frame


Onboard PC

At the heart of the boat is an automated water quality system that continuously maps water quality as the vessel undertakes any activity.

Nautical features and performance

Captain and crew

bar-ba-ka is an efficient, diesel-powered aluminium catamaran (twin hulls). These features provide excellent stability and seaworthiness, and a range of more than 750 nautical miles.

This allows it to operate in all Victorian marine waters and beyond to 100 nautical miles offshore.

At just under 12 metres long, bar-ba-ka has a cruising speed of 11–12 knots and top speed of 20 knots. It has accommodation for two crew members and can carry up to eight other people.

Page last updated on 18 Oct 2016