Clever citizen scientist program keeping an eye on critical marine habitats

Photo credit: Tessa Eline van Daalen

 

Citizen scientists are taking to the water, sampling seagrass and other benthic habitats in Moreton Bay. Its part of a great initiative to obtain information to help manage and protect Moreton Bay’s natural assets including seagrass meadows and other habitats.

Despite gale force winds and COVID-19 restrictions, the “Science Under Sail Australia” program, which is supported by Healthy Land and Water, recently completed three successful expeditions across Moreton Bay. Over 1,000 sites across the area were visited by teams of keen volunteers, under the supervision of Dr James Udy.

Volunteers are taught research techniques and methods from professional researchers and learn about marine ecosystems through hands-on experience. The data is used to contribute to annual report cards and inform marine park zoning reviews and development applications.

The information collected by the citizen science program also helps Healthy Land and Water to advise state and local governments on the best way to manage and protect Moreton Bay’s natural assets of seagrass meadows and other critical habitats.

The data is used in our Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program (EHMP) and will also be made publicly accessible through the Atlas of Living Australia.

Science Under Sail’s Director Dr James Udy says he is excited to see an increase in interest in the program among a diverse group of people, not only within South East Queensland, but from all around Australia.

“It was encouraging to see a large range in the backgrounds and ages of participants, as well as a significant increase in the number of participants from South East Queensland in the recent December 2020 and January 2021 expeditions,” says Dr Udy.

“Participants ranged from a 14-year-old Brisbane high school student, to a 52-year-old artist from North Stradbroke Island,”

“The border closures and recent Brisbane lockdown prevented hopeful volunteers traveling interstate to participate in January’s field trips, however we were fortunate to have participants from Victoria and Tasmania participate in the December expedition.”

Healthy Land and Water would like to congratulate all the participants and crew for their amazing contribution to this project. It joins the Science Under Sail program in thanking all its members for their continuing financial support for monitoring of critical habitats in Moreton Bay.

Learn more about Science Under Sails

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