Torres Strait Seagrass Long-term Monitoring: dugong sanctuary, Dungeness Reef and Orman Reefs

Carter, A.B., and Rasheed, M.A. (2018) Torres Strait Seagrass Long-term Monitoring: dugong sanctuary, Dungeness Reef and Orman Reefs. Report. James Cook University, Cairns, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

Torres Strait contains extensive seagrass habitat, the largest dugong population in the world, and globally significant populations of green turtles. Dugong feed exclusively on seagrass while green turtles consume seagrass and macroalgae. Seagrass diebacks have been documented twice in central Torres Strait and linked to local dugong mortality.

Community-based Dugong and Turtle Management Plans are in operation in Torres Strait. These include seasonal closures, gear restrictions, effort reduction, limits on take, compulsory sharing, and closed areas. The largest closed area is the Dugong Sanctuary, which incorporates the largest single continuous seagrass meadow mapped in Australia.

Assessing and managing the health of Torres Strait seagrass requires collection of baseline information plus ongoing monitoring to understand seasonal variation and detect seagrass decline.

This report describes (1) a baseline survey of intertidal Orman Reef (2017) including seagrass and other benthic characteristics; and (2) long-term monitoring of seagrass in the Dugong Sanctuary (2011-2018), Dungeness Reef (2016-2018) and Orman Reefs (2017-2018).

Ranger participation is essential to the success of seagrass research in Torres Strait. Surveys involved collaboration between Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) Land and Sea Management Unit (LSMU) Rangers and the Centre for Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER). Rangers from Poruma, Iama and Warraber Islands (Dungeness Reef), and Badu and Mabuiag Islands (Dugong Sanctuary and Orman Reefs), were key staff in data collection.

8823 + 570 hectares of intertidal seagrass was mapped across six intertidal meadows at Orman Reefs. The reef also contained extensive algae habitat and hard coral communities.

Subtidal seagrass meadows monitored at the Dugong Sanctuary, Dungeness Reef, and Orman Reefs remain in good condition, but with distinct seasonal fluctuations in biomass.

We recommend future research and monitoring based on continued collaboration with TSRA LSMU Rangers, maintenance of existing long-term monitoring programs, expansion of baseline seagrass knowledge to areas currently lacking data, and establishment of additional long-term seagrass monitoring in a range of seagrass habitats, with a particular focus on subtidal and remote intertidal meadows.

Item ID: 70848
Item Type: Report (Report)
Keywords: seagrass, Torres Strait, monitoring
Copyright Information: © James Cook University, 2018.
Funders: Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA)
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2021 01:08
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems @ 100%
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