What fascinates you about seagrass?
Seagrass is at the base of the food chain for commercial and recreational fisheries as well as endangered species, and its largest threat is human activity. The health of seagrass communities provides an early warning system for human impacts on marine habitats and animals. Humans reduce the health of marine environments by directly damaging the environment through dredging or land reclamation and through changes in catchment land use that increase the pollution exported from a catchment during rain events. Water pollution in marine environments is directly linked to anthropogenic land uses which have changed the hydrology and pollution run off.
For more than 20 years, my work has focused on understanding anthropogenic impacts on aquatic environments generally, with a specialization on seagrass habitats due to their important role in supporting a broader ecosystem. The purpose of this work is to better understand the current state of seagrass and their threats in Moreton Bay. This will allow management actions to be instigated that will reduce negative impacts on seagrass meadows and the various fauna they support, such as crabs, fish, dugong, turtles and dolphins.
Describe a great moment in the field:
While working in seagrass meadows, I have seen many different spectacles of nature, from enjoying the smallest sea slug or sea horse attached to a seagrass leaf, to having dugongs and dolphins inspect me while undertaking my research. Turning from the observer to the observed is definitely a memorable experience and I have had the luxury of having such wonderful events happen several times during my career. On one occasion, I was snorkeling with my daughter conducting seagrass transects when a pod of approximately 20 dolphins came across us while swimming through the seagrass meadow. The dolphins circled us at a safe distance. They would swim past in pairs of an older dolphin accompanying a younger dolphin. We assumed this may have been a mother and calf, with the mother showing her calf what humans look like. But we will never know. Eventually, the dolphins got bored and swam off to explore other sections of the seagrass meadow, leaving us to complete our transect and contemplate this wonderful experience.