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Geographe seagrass health get the thumbs up

26 February, 2018

Seagrass meadows in Geographe Bay were described as looking very healthy during their annual health check last month.

Scientists from Edith Cowan University and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions carried out the annual “Keep Watch” monitoring that keeps an eye on the health of seagrass in Geographe Bay.

Seagrass shoot density was similar to last year’s results and was higher at the Vasse Diversion Drain and Port Geographe sites.

“We monitor shoot density of the main species of seagrass in the Bay, Posidonia sinuosa, as an indicator of seagrass health” said Lead Scientist Kathryn McMahon from Edith Cowan University.

“We have been monitoring eight sites in Geographe Bay since 2012 with seagrass shoot density similar over the last seven years” said Kathryn.   “These results are really encouraging, showing that Geographe Bay seagrass meadows are in good condition”.

The Keep Watch seagrass monitoring program was initiated by GeoCatch in response to concerns of the potential impact of nutrients on seagrass meadows. Nutrients from the catchment can impact on seagrass health by enhancing growth of epiphytes and algae that grow on seagrass.

Algal epiphyte cover was much lower this year than has been recorded in previous years.

“The main types of epiphytes on the seagrass with high to moderate cover is microalga accumulations” said Kathryn. “These accumulations are not generally associated with nutrient enrichment”.

A Masters student from ECU is investigating the occurrence of the microalga accumulations in Geographe Bay.

You can find the Keep Watch Seagrass Monitoring 2017 report HERE

The Keep Watch seagrass monitoring program is a collaborative effort with funding from the Water Corporation and in-kind support from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.