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Gold Coast

 
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The Gold Coast region is located in far South East Queensland (SEQ). The region includes the second most populous city in the state (Gold Coast City), and it's metropolitan area converges with that of Greater Brisbane, forming part of an urban conurbation of over 3 million people. The region is known as a major tourist destination with its sunny subtropical climate, surfing beaches, canal and waterway systems, its high-rise dominated skyline, theme parks, nightlife, and rainforest hinterland.

Seagrasses are a major component of the Gold Coasts natural marine ecosystems. The meadows are important nursery habitat to juvenile fish & prawns and also provide habitat for migratory wading birds and food for black swans. Extensive seagrass meadows occur both on intertidal mudflats and subtidal areas.

Eight seagrass species occur in the SEQ region (Cymodocea serrulata, Halophila decipiens, Halophila minor, Halophila ovalis, Halophila spinulosa, Halodule uninervis, Syringodium isoetifolium and Zostera muelleri subsp. capricorni (aka Zostera capricorni)), with Zostera capricorni and Halophila ovalis the most common, and Halophila minor the rarest (Phillips et al. 2008); although H. minor taxonomy remains under review (see Waycott et al. 2004). Seagrass communities in the Gold Coast region have been mapped several times over the past 35 years to varying degrees and accuracies. Approximately 300-400 hectares of seagrass meadows has been mapped throughout the region, however there is concern that seagrass distribution is declining - particularly in the Broadwater.

Seagrass distribution throughout the region is most likely influenced by shelter, sediment characteristics, water turbidity and tidal exposure. The most extensive seagrass meadows in the region occur in the intertidal zone. Large seagrass meadows occur in areas of wide intertidal flats while small but dense seagrass meadows are found in association with narrow or confined channels. Seagrass do not occur on exposed oceanic shores in the Gold Coast region, but do occur in small intertidal areas within some rivers and creeks flowing directly into the ocean.

 

 

Gold Coast seagrass status (Jan 2012)

  • insufficient sampling events to derive seagrass abundance indicators as variance for the 50th and 20th percentiles has not levelled off (does not yet provide a reasonable estimate of the true percentile value).
  • using the seagrass guidelines values from Moreton Bay (i.e. Wynnum, similar habitat and species), seagrass state was determined for each monitoring event at each site.
  • for much of 2010/11, seagrass state was poor at all sites south of Brown Island. Seagrass status remained good at the Brown Island (BI2) site

 

 

 

 

South Stradbroke Island

Monitoring: ongoing, biannual
Principal watchers: Marjolein Oram, Remi Oram, Heleen Van Daalen, Daniela Wilken-Jones, Ian Harrison, Lindy Salter (The Gold Coast Community Seagrass Monitoring group)
Occasional and past watchers: Adan Wandrap, Brent Smith, Chris Dunn, Christine Gilespie, Coombabah SHS, Dan Parker, Gina Ygoa, Glenys Owen, Hank Brent, Karen Ngwenya, Keidon Andreson, Kim Fulton, Kris Boody, Louise Coles, Nick Hoffmann, Rebecca Dennis, Ros O'Connell, Sarah Smith, Shannon Grady, Sheila Davis, Simone Stanbrook, Sonya Karlsson, Steph Wolf, Steve McVeigh, Uri Strante
Location: intertidal sand flat on south western section of South Stradbroke Island
Site code: SS1, SS2

Issues: not identified

Status (Jan12):

  • seagrass abundance appears relatively stable over last 4 years of monitoring. Possibly seasonally higher over summer months and declining during winter months, however cannot be confirmed as frequency of sampling inconsistent

  • sites dominated by Zostera capricorni, with variable composition of Halophila ovalis and
    Halodule uninervis.
  • seagrass canopy height has varied over the monitoring period, however no consistent trend or
    pattern apparent.

 

  • macroalgae abundance increased in 2010 and 2011, however was not observed in early 2012.
  • epiphyte abundance decreased in mid-2009 and has slowly increased over the last 2-3 years.

 

 

 

 

Wave Break Island

Monitoring: ongoing, ad hoc
Principal watchers: Ian Banks, Sonya Karlsson (The Gold Coast Community Seagrass Monitoring group)
Occasional and past watchers: Justin Leigh-Smith, Daniela Wilken-Jones, Nick Harris ,Mark Docherty, Lou Coles, Johann Gustason, Hugh Scarlett, Chantal Leigh-Smith
Location: subtidal sites located adjacent to the Gold Coast Seaway (WV1) and at the northern end of Carters Bank (WV2)
Site code: WV1, WV2

Status (Jan12):

  • sites are subtidal. WV1 was dominated by Halophila spinulosa with Halophila ovalis and some Zostera capricorni /Halodule uninervis. WV2 was dominated by Z. capricorni with H. ovalis and small amounts of H. spinulosa in late 2011.
  • seagrass meadow at WV1 was lost in late 2010, however as site has not been revisited, current status is unknown. Replicate site established in late 2010. Change in seagrass abundance over the first 12 months of sampling may indicate seasonal variation, however cannot be confirmed due to insufficient long-term samples.

 

 

 

Currumbin Creek

Monitoring: ongoing, triannual
Principal watchers: Daniela Wilken-Jones, Linda Ray (The Gold Coast Community Seagrass Monitoring group)
Occasional and past watchers: Trish Osbourne, Caitlin Church, Keira, Liw Sutherland, Louise Coles, Marjolein Oram, Max, Sheila Davis, Shelia Tierney,
Location: intertidal bank on the southern side Currumbin Creek
Site code: CC1
Issues: not identified

Status (Jan12):

  • The seagrass meadow is a narrow band (3-5m wide) along the southern banks of Currumbin Creek.
  • Since the site was first examined in November 2007 (as part of the Seagrass-Watch Level I training workshop), the seagrass abundance declined significantly and has remained low ever since.
  • The site is dominated by Zostera capricorni with very slight appearances of Halophila ovalis from time to time.
  • Although seagrass abundance significantly declined, this is not reflected in the canopy height with long leafed plants remaining throughout.

 

  • Prior to the significant decline in seagrass, algae abundance was also high, with approximately 70% cover of macroalgae. Macroalgae abundance declined with the seagrass decline, although relatively small amounts have reappeared from time to time.
  • Epiphyte abundance appears to have consistently increased since monitoring was established.
  • The changes in seagrass, macroalgae and epiphytes over the duration of the monitoring indicate a possible decline in water quality with increased turbidity (reducing seagrass abundance) and elevated water column nutrients (increasing the epiphytic and macroalgae).

 

 

 

 

Tallebudgera

Monitoring: ongoing, biannual
Principal watchers: Daniela Wilken-Jones, Lauren Morgan, Linda Ray, Seb Clarke (The Gold Coast Community Seagrass Monitoring group)
Occasional and past watchers: CK Tan, Mandy Flowers, Martina Salovac, Natalie Zalega, Simon Bridge
Location: intertidal bank on the southern side Tallebudgera Creek, approx 2km upstream from highway
Site code: TL1
Issues: not identified

Status (Jan12):

  • The seagrass meadow is a relatively small monospecific patch of Zostera capricorni on the southern banks of Tallebudgera Creek.
  • seagrass abundance appears relatively stable over last 18 months of monitoring, with no evidence of a seasonal pattern due to the paucity of data.

  • seagrass canopy is very high and has consistently increased over the monitoring period

  • no macroalgae has been observed in the meadow, however epiphyte cover on the surface of the leaves has remained high (>30%) throughout the monitoring period

 

 

 

 

Brown Island

Monitoring: ongoing, triannual
Principal watchers: Linda Salter, Rebecca Dennis, Sonya Karlsson (The Gold Coast Community Seagrass Monitoring group)
Occasional and past watchers: Juri Strante, Brad, Chelsea Karena, Daniela Wilken Jones, M Salter, Nick Hoffmann
Location: intertidal mangrove flat on western section of South Stradbroke Island
Site code: BI1, BI2
Issues: not identified

Status (Jan12):

  • is an intertidal Zostera capricorni dominated meadow with small amounts of Halophila ovalis and Halodule uninervis.
  • seagrass abundance is generally between 40 and 60% and has changed little over the 12 months of monitoring. A seasonal trend may be present, however due to the limited dataset it cannot be confirmed

  • seagrass canopy is generally high (>10cm) and decreased during late 2011

 

  • only small amounts of macroalgae have been observed in the meadow and epiphyte cover has fluctuated greatly. No seasonal trend appears present, however due to the limited dataset it cannot be confirmed

 

 

 

 

Southport (Broadwater)

Monitoring: ongoing, biannual
Principal watchers: Daniela Wilken-Jones, Brett Smith (The Gold Coast Community Seagrass Monitoring group)
Occasional and past watchers: Caitlin Church, John Barritt, Liz Childs, Rebecca McKenzie, Sally Kirkpatrick, Sarah Barritt, Skye Scarlett, Chris Dunn, Joy Smith, Kay Montgomery, Kim Fulton, Kristen Splinter, Linda Durham, Linda Ray, Lou Coles, Nick Hoffmann, Pam Baker, Tyson Childs
Location: intertidal sand flat on western section of the Broadwater, adjacent to Southport. GC2 is located within the Marine Stadium adjacent to The Spit.
Site code: GC1, GC2
Issues: coastal development, urban runoff
Best tides: <0.6m (port Gold Coast Seaway 60050)

Status (Jan12):

  • is an intertidal Zostera capricorni dominated meadow with significant amounts of Halophila ovalis from time to time. The fluctuating abundance of H. ovalis could indicate fluctuating levels of disturbance (e.g., sand movement). Halodule uninervis is rarely observed.
  • seagrass abundance is generally between 5 and 20% and has changed little over the 3 years of monitoring, apart from an increase in late 2009. This increase could be the result of a seasonal trend (i.e. higher over late spring-summer months), however due to the limited dataset it cannot be confirmed. Although site GC2 was established in June 2008, it has not been revisited since.

  • seagrass canopy is generally high (>10cm) and peaked in early 2011.

 

 

  • only small amounts of macroalgae have been observed in the meadow and although epiphyte cover decreased in 2009, it increased significantly in 2011

 

 

 
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