Wirriya Jalyanu Seagrass Festival - celebrating Malgana language, art and science of Shark Bay's Seagrass Ecosystems
This article about the Wirriya Jalyanu Seagrass Festival was published online in the April 2021 edition of the Shark Bay CRC online publication Inscription Post. Seagrass is an important element of the Shark Bay World Heritage Site. The Wirriya Jalyanu Festival promoted connections through learning about the seagrass ecosystem. Activities at the Festival included science, archaeology, cooking, art, dance, land management, and Malgana language. Science talks provided a context for the Festival events. Three invited speakers presented passionately about their research. UWA’s Prof Gary Kendrick spoke about seagrass ecosystems: the foundation of Shark Bay’s fragile marine environment and the impacts of heat waves. Malgana woman and artist Bianca McNeair spoke about turtle tagging fieldwork with Malgana women on Wirruwanna (Dirk Hartog Island), and UWA researcher Dr Ana Sequeira spoke about tracking the movements of turtles and dugong.
Gathaagudu (two waters), also known as Shark Bay, is the traditional country of Malgana peoples. It is also home to expansive seagrass (wirriya jalyanu) meadows. This article, published in Issue 114 of the Friends of King's Park magazine For People and Plants, takes you on a high-resolution journey to the surface of seagrass leaves and the individual cells giving life and colour within them. Exploring the anatomical structures of seagrasses (and comparative works with eucalypt species) provides inspiration for environmental science student and emerging Malgana artist, Tiahna Oxenham. In keeping with cultural heritage protocols, art works are created from plant material collected on Malgana Country, keeping her connection to country alive.
The South-west Corner Marine Park survey used standardised methods to characterise seabed habitats and fish populations to support the ongoing monitoring of the marine park. Several small isolated high-profile reefs exist in depths of ~30-50 m in the south-east of the National Park Zone, with the majority of mid-shelf habitat consisting of flat pavement reefs interspersed with sand sediments. Both reef types supported diverse assemblages of macroalgae, seagrass, soft corals and sponges. Further offshore, ledge features at ~100 m depth support diverse filter feeders dominated by hard bryozoans, hydroids, black and octocorals and sponges. Dense filter feeding assemblages on the edge of the shelf break down to 250 m depth were populated by aggregations of hapuka (Polyprion oxygeneios). A potential aggregation site for grey nurse sharks (Carcharias taurus) within the National Park Zone was also found. Additional image annotation and analysis aims to provide further details on assemblages.
Assisting recovery of seagrass in Shark Bay, Gathaagudu - Final Report
This report outlines the findings of a collaborative project between University of Western Australia scientists and the Malgana Traditional Owners to assist recovery of seagrasses in Gathaagudu (Shark Bay) following the 2011 marine heat wave. It presents the results of field-based methods designed to assist seagrass restoration and the outcomes of these efforts for restoring ecosystem function of seagrasses. Furthermore, we provide a framework for planning future restoration activities, with step-by step examples. Suggestions are provided for the next steps in assisting people and seagrass ecosystems to heal sea country.
Baseline genomic data collection and assisting natural recovery of seagrass meadows
The goal of NESP Project E6 is to work alongside the Malgana Traditional Owners to assist recovery of the dominant seagrasses, Amphibolis antarctica and Posidonia australis following the 2011 marine heat wave. Therefore, this project has been developed and implemented with consultation and collaboration between UWA scientists and the Malgana people. Collectively, we have established strong lines of communication and coordinated processes for conducting field work, organising and implementing workshops, engaging in ecological and restoration training exercises and practice, as well as brainstorming and organising upcoming community events, including the seagrass festival to be held in April 2021 in Denham, Shark Bay.
Our project successfully (i) developed baseline restoration genetic diversity and connectivity data of the two impacted seagrasses which was used to select plants and sites for restoration, and (ii) by incorporating the baseline genetic information, assisted the natural recovery of seagrass meadows through the collection of reproductive and vegetative propagules for on-ground restoration activities within selected sites.
UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 - What Chance for Success in Restoring Coastal Ecosystems?
This paper looks at whether the United Nations Declaration of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 can be properly applied to coastal ecosystems. The paper describes what coastal ecosystems are, why they are important, what is currently threatening them and why they are declining. The authors examine what will be required to restore coastal ecosystems successfully over the next decade, including the capability and capacity of states to conduct restoration, the availability of trans-disciplinary teams, policy, and funding availability.
Benefits and costs of alternate seagrass restoration approaches
Integrated economic frameworks can be used to understand the trade-offs between different marine habitat restoration projects, and establish which restoration configurations will deliver the largest benefits relative to costs. Here we use a benefit-cost analysis to explore how key factors influence the viability of seagrass restoration projects in Western Australia. We compared the costs of: replanting and reseeding methods, professional and volunteer-based methods, urban and remote locations, and, different spatial extents. Economic benefits were estimated for the carbon sequestration capabilities of restored meadows, and for the non-market (intangible) values that seagrass habitats generate. With the exclusion of the professional-labour replanting scenarios, where costs exceeded benefits, all scenarios had positive net present values. Contingent on the assumptions made, the most worthwhile investments are larger-scale, volunteer-based restoration projects that employ the reseeding method.