Seagrass (wirriya jalyanu): giving life to sea country of Shark Bay (Gathaagudu) - Fact sheet 2021

Researchers at The University of Western Australia (UWA) are working with the Malgana Aboriginal Corporation and rangers to assist the natural recovery of seagrasses affected by an extreme marine heatwave at Shark Bay. The widespread loss of seagrass resulting from the 2010/2011 marine heatwave caused declines in many species, including those of cultural significance. These include green sea turtles  (buyungurra), dugong (wuthuga), shags (wanamalu) and bottlenose dolphins (irrabuga). Malgana Rangers and scientists have participated in four training workshops to develop and trial simple, cost-effective methods to assist the recovery of seagrass. The methods use adult plants, seeds and seedlings, depending on the species. Measuring the success of a restoration project takes time. However, seaweeds and algae are starting to grow on seagrass transplants, tropical seagrasses are colonising the surrounding bare sand, and fish and invertebrates are starting to use the new habitat.