Spotlight on Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetland Ecosystems – Seagrass

The Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetland is home to a mosaic of diverse ecosystems that support an array of plants and animals, some of which are rare and endangered.

One of these ecosystems is seagrass. Seagrass is an underwater flowering plant, not to be confused with seaweed, which is an algae. It grows in large meadows in shallow areas of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetland and provides important food and habitat for a range of marine animals. Turtles and dugongs love to feed off these nutrient rich plants, and many fish species use them for nurseries. Did you know that in only one acre of seagrass you could find up to 40,000 baby fish and over 50 million invertebrates?

Seagrass also plays an important role in protecting shorelines through moderating water movements and energy dispersion. Seagrass meadows store a similar amount of carbon (known as ‘blue carbon’) per unit area as forests.

The 2021 Report Card revealed that seagrass has returned to many areas of Quandamooka (Moreton Bay) including in places where seagrass hadn’t been seen since the 1970s!

A target to recover at least 5,000 hectares of seagrass by 2031 has been set in the South East Queensland Natural Resource Management Plan (SEQ NRM Plan), to enable seagrass to continue providing vital ecosystem services to the environment and the economy.

What you can do to help preserve seagrass

Sediment, or mud, flushes out into Quandamooka from our region’s rivers and estuaries, which smothers seagrass and causes poor water quality. The good news is there are plenty of ways we can help protect seagrass populations, including reducing the amount of sediment and nutrients that flows to the Bay.

Backyards – Keeping your yard covered with mulch, grass or plants and reducing fertiliser, herbicide and pesticide use will help prevent sediment, nutrients and chemicals washing into waterways.

House building – If you’re building a house, talk with your builder about putting in erosion and sediment controls – these will help keep the sediment from running into waterways while your house is being constructed. Once its built be sure to put your landscaping in as soon as possible and try to keep patches of bare dirt to a minimum. Learn more tips on erosion and sediment control.

Boat Moorings – If you moor a boat in Moreton Bay you can install an environmentally friendly mooring to help protect seagrass from damaging mooring chains.

Citizen scientists keeping an eye on critical marine habitats

Citizen scientists are taking to the water, sampling seagrass and other benthic habitats in Quandamooka (Moreton Bay) as part of the Science Under Sail program. The program is obtaining information to help inform and manage Moreton Bay’s natural assets, including seagrass meadows.

The data collected contributes to our Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program’s (EHMP) annual Report Card and informs marine park zoning reviews and development applications.

The information 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.

Science Under Sail has been working in collaboration with Healthy Land and Water since 2015 conducting seagrass surveys in Quandamooka (Moreton Bay).

When the monitoring program was established, it was anticipated that approximately 4,000 sites could be surveyed every three years, providing a complete coverage of areas in Quandamooka (Moreton Bay) ‘where seagrass is likely to occur’.

This has been achieved, with approximately 8,800 visual observations made in Quandamooka (Moreton Bay) over six years (2015 – 2020) and most regions, ‘where seagrass is likely occur’, having been sampled at least twice.

Learn more about the program: https://hlw.org.au/newsroom/clever-citizen-scientist-program-keeping-an-eye-on-critical-marine-habitats/

 

The Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetland Project is supported by Healthy Land and Water, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare program.

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