Passionate members of the Gladstone Scout and Cubs group and their families have joined researchers from CQUniversity's Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC) to collect seagrass flowers in Gladstone for the final harvest of the year.
Led by CMERC Director Associate Professor Emma Jackson' the group set sail for Curtis Island to assist in the vital research on Saturday' 4 December 2021.
Harvests throughout the year support research at CQUniversity' where A/Prof Jackson and her team have been germinating seeds from the flowers and replanting them when they are fully mature to regenerate seagrass meadows.
Seagrass meadows are an important coastal habitat that provide food for dugong and turtles' habitat for small marine life and act as the kidneys of our Great Barrier Reef' filtering out nutrients and sediments.
A/Prof Jackson said the Scout and Cubs group did a terrific job at collecting the seagrass flowers.
"We were joined by 17 eager Scout and Cubs plus their family members and Scout Leaders – a whopping 45 volunteers all up'" A/Prof Jackson said.
"It was the end of season flowering but the Scouts and Cubs managed to hunt down patches of flowering and get lots of late-season seeds which was fantastic.
"They also undertook an activity linking animals and plants in the harbour to seagrass and created a web of connections which highlighted the value of these important habitats.
"It's important that we instil an appreciation and love for our oceans in our children and teach them about the important roles seagrass plays in our coastal habitats."
Through citizen scientist initiatives' volunteers from the community are recruited by researchers to help harvest seagrass flowers while learning about our marine environment.
"We are able to involve local people to help with the collection of seagrass flowers'" A/Prof Jackson said.
"We do this in a non-destructive way and put careful precautions in place to avoid disturbing the wildlife' manage weather and mud conditions and also without impacting the seagrass meadows."
The seagrass flowers collected have been taken back to CMERC's laboratory where the seeds will be harvested.
A/Prof Jackson said seagrasses are disappearing at an alarming rate' but projects such as the Seagrass Flowers project will contribute to the restoration of this vital flora.
The Seagrass Flowers: growing community engagement for seagrass restoration project is proudly supported by the Queensland Government's Queensland Citizen Science Grants.