CQUni brings seagrass fun to Gladstone Ecofest

Published:07 June 2020

Director of CMERC Associate Professor Emma Jackson in the seagrass nursery (top) and rock hunt characters Dueling Dude, Hairy Hero and Paddle Pal (bottom).

CQUniversity’s Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC) went virtual for Gladstone Ecofest (4-10 June 2020).

With the annual community event transitioned to online, CMERC has embraced the new digital delivery. The research centre showcased its state-of-the-art facilities at Gladstone Marina with a 360-degree interactive tour and a suite of activities designed to engage the community.

Focused on this year's theme of Biodiversity, Director of CMERC Associate Professor Emma Jackson explained how CQUni’s contribution celebrates the importance of our coastal habitats and educates on our environmental impact.

“As CMERC is home to Queensland’s only seagrass nursery and we are leading current research programs for seagrass restoration, it seemed only fitting that seagrass be the star of our activity.” Associate Professor Jackson explained.

“Seagrass meadows are vital to our coastal ecosystems as they support a range of marine species, including fishery species and protected species such as dugongs and turtles. They are the kidneys of the Great Barrier Reef as they filter out fine sediment and nutrients from our catchments, they also trap and store carbon, offsetting our carbon footprint,” she said.

“Unfortunately, they are in decline due to coastal development, poor water quality and climate change. Actively restoring seagrass is becoming a necessity to support coastal ecosystems.”

The activity video which launched on Facebook encourages families to explore the Gladstone Marina campus and Spinnaker Park and find rocks printed with seagrass characters (local species of seagrass).

The fun characters feature creative names such as Hairy Hero (Halophila decipiens) and Dueling Dude (Halodule uninervis) designed to get children interested in seagrass. Throughout the week of Ecofest additional information was released about each of these species to celebrate the diversity of seagrass.

This video and content from various local environmental groups have been rolled out via Gladstone Council’s Facebook page and the recently launched Virtual Neighbourhood Centre.

“Seagrass does not get the attention it deserves because most people don’t understand it’s importance. The goal of the event is to raise local awareness surrounding seagrass rehabilitation and recovery,” said Associate Professor Jackson.

Visit the official EcoFest 2020 event page for more information on the ‘rock hunt’ activity

Or for more information on CMERC and seagrass research.