"The prosperity of an island nation depends greatly on the extent to which it achieves excellence in hydrography"

Commodore R. Nairn RAN, Hydrographer of Australia, 2010

The hydrographic surveyor is a specialist in precise positioning and data acquisition in marine environments, expected to work in a wide range of differing situations and applications from inland waters and rivers, to ports and the deep oceans. The effects of wind, waves, changing land and sea levels all necessitate coastal protection. The hydrographic surveyor is a key member of a team comprising planners, ecologists, civil engineers and others dedicated to the acquisition and application of data necessary for monitoring and protection of the environment.

Navigation, oil, gas and mineral resource exploration and recovery, dredging, coastal works, bridge and port construction, submarine pipeline and telephone cable construction, environmental monitoring, aquaculture and oceanographic research are all crucially dependant on the hydrographic surveyor for accurate, reliable information.

Hydrographic surveyors use state of-the-art technology ranging from sophisticated sensors to high accuracy positioning systems and were at forefront of developing and refining the use of GPS/GNSS, enabling worldwide, 24-hour, all weather, high accuracy positioning. The latest underwater acoustic techniques provide precise relative positioning of both surface and subsea vessels over large distances. Seawater temperature and salinity profiles make allowance for changing signal paths in the water layers. Sound impulses emitted at close intervals as a vessel moves ahead enable electronic stacking of reflected data from points on the rock strata. The resulting high-resolution two and three-dimensional images are essential to the successful search for oil and gas. Developments in swathe sounding technology allow coverage of large areas of the oceans from a single vessel in a fraction of the time previously taken. Airborne data gathering (Lidar) has also become more commonplace with the use of colour lasers and remote sensing of the seabed.

In conjunction with the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus), the SSSI Hydrography Commission has produced the above corporate video showcasing the importance of hydrography as a spatial science discipline, and positioning hydrographic surveying as a rewarding career opportunity to senior school leavers and those tertiary students studying surveying at university.

The video Hydrography as a Career is available on

YouTube or through the dedicated RiAus website.

Acknowledgement - International Federation of Hydrographic Societies 24/3/09

The formation of the Hydrography Commission within the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute follows wide consultation of all interested parties and gives the hydrographic surveying profession in Australia, New Zealand and the region a clear professional structure, resourced and supported by the Institute, within which to focus on their core business. The Commission consists of a National Committee to ensure comprehensive representation of its Members in order to promote the interests of the professional discipline.


The objectives of the Hydrography Commission are in accordance with the SSSI Constitution and cater particularly to the needs of the hydrographic surveying community by:

  • Promoting the discipline of hydrography
  • Encouraging appropriate standards and practice
  • Providing professional certification assessment
  • Facilitating communication among members of the Commission
  • Developing and maintaining a continuing professional development (CPD) programme for hydrographic surveyors
  • Developing strong relations with Australasian tertiary education providers offering hydrographic surveying qualifications
  • Developing and maintaining strong external relations with the International Hydrographic Organization, the International Federation of Surveyors, and the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors
  • Representing SSSI on FIG Commission 4 - Hydrography;
  • Influencing government policy/legislation with respect to the profession; and
  • Maintaining links with kindred societies including the Australasian Hydrographic Society and the International Federation of Hydrographic Societies.


Membership of the Hydrography Commission is open to all members of SSSI who have an interest in hydrography and those NZIS members who are accredited or certified hydrographic surveyors. All successful applicants certified by the Australasian Hydrographic Surveyors Certification Panel who elect to become members of SSSI or NZIS are automatically included on the Hydrography Commission roll.

Why Should I Join?

  • Professional Home: An institute that provides a national and international home for you as professional hydrographic surveyor.
  • Events: Access to 200+national events annually, including seminars, workshops and online training.
  • Professional Development: Access to internationally-recognised hydrographic surveying certification and the opportunity to manage your continuing professional development through a structured CPD programme.
  • Financial Benefits: Take advantage of the Benefits Collective, a cooperative formed to provide members with savings across a range of benefits and services.
  • Make a Difference: Help shape the future of hydrography in Australasia and promote the discipline of hydrographic surveying through active Commission involvement, engagement and participation.
  • Recognition: Obtain recognition from Government, the community, and from industry peers for your contribution to the spatial sciences profession through the national Asia-Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards program.
  • Industry Information: Enhance your professional standing and knowledge through industry updates and access to newsletters, magazines and journals including Hydro International, bi-monthly editions of Position Magazine, the Journal of Spatial Sciences, and the SSSIs monthly GeoMessage e-newsletter.

Latest Hydrography News

Restoring Coastal Sand Drift - Improving Boating Access

Restoring Coastal Sand Drift - Improving Boating Access


Tweed Sand Bypassing has been part of the unique coastal story of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta for nearly twenty years. Recognised around the world, the Project was created for two towns in two different States whose very identity, economy and culture depends on sand and the Tweed River entrance.

read more
2018 Hydrography Seminar "Working with Nature"

2018 Hydrography Seminar "Working with Nature"

The Hydrography Commission and Australasian Hydrographic Society ran a joint seminar at the University Club, Perth on 15th February 2018.


read more
2017 Hydrographic Excellence Award

2017 Hydrographic Excellence Award

A Ground-Breaking Tidal Study at the World’s Largest Bulk Export Port

The Hydrography Commission is pleased to announce Pilbara Ports Authority and Precision Hydrographic Services as the joint winners of the Hydrographic Excellence Award for 2017.

read more