Seeding community support for seagrass flower collections

Published:07 October 2019

Girl Guides help collect seagrass flowers in the Port Curtis area

Girl Guides help collect seagrass flowers in the Port Curtis area.

As the operator of Queensland's only seagrass nursery, CQUniversity Gladstone Marina can propagate, cultivate and maintain the health of this valuable marine resource.

CQUni's Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC) has led a number of public seagrass flower collecting events, in conjunction with the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership.

The initial events involved local Girl Guides and international English language student volunteers, while later events will involve members of the Gidarjil Development Corporation Indigenous Sea Rangers. Two events will be open to the general public.

CMERC Interim Director, Dr Emma Jackson says seagrasses are important environmental facilitators.

"They catch a lot of the sediment that comes down from catchments," she says.

"They are food for dugongs, turtles and fish and they are also an important tool in the fight against climate change because they capture a lot of carbon and can be really important sequestering and storing that carbon."

Dr Jackson says the seeds from seagrass flowers from a range of populations can be used to ensure there are different strains of seagrass available which can tolerate different conditions.

"Seagrasses have good and bad years but we have lost around 50 per cent of seagrasses over recent decades in the local region. This year is a good year so we have the opportunity to harvest lots of seeds for restoration research.

"Coastal developments and more frequent storm events influence their distribution and the connectivity between different meadows, so what we need to do is to have methods to restore and enhance seagrass areas and even create new seagrass meadows that can improve the resilience of seagrass ecosystems."

* CMERC has been established by CQUniversity to work with coastal industries and communities to develop practical and sustainable solutions that retain the value of our unique coast and marine ecosystems.