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Seagrass-Watch was established in March 1998. Long-term monitoring began early August 1999 and monitoring currently occurs across 17 countries. An additional 9 countries participate but they are currently at resource identification stage (mapping). At the programs tenth year milestone (March 2008), a total of 215 sites had been established and approximately 70,000 quadrats had been examined.

Over the years their have been many achievements and below with share a few with you.

The Prime Minister's Environment Award

Natural Heritage Trust Award for Rural and Regional Leadership, World Environment Day 2000


Seagrass-Watch representatives (community, DPI&F and QPWS) receive award.


Coast Care Certificate of Appreciation

For the development of a community based marine monitoring program Seagrass-Watch, and its support with community groups monitoring seagrasses in the Hervey Bay and Whitsunday areas.

Townsville City Council Environment Award
Category - Business and Industry 2002


Australian Federal Elections 2001

profile of Seagrass-Watch raised during campaigning

click on image to enlarge

cartoon courtesy Townsville Bulletin 08 October 2001


Seagrass-Watch HQ


Warren Lee Long, Stuart Campbell, Chantal Roder, Juanita Bité, Karen Vidler, Michael Baer, Cameron Miller, Simon Kerville, Louise Johns , Rahel Zomei, Naomi Smith, Richard Unsworth
Local & site coordinators
(past & present)
Rochelle Balitaan, Barry Bendell, Jerry Comans, Sarah Egnar, Tony Fontes, Paul Finn, Tom Collis, Gordon Cottle, Leanne Cullen-Unsworth, Eileen Finglas, Natalie Gleeson, Debra Henry, Christina Howley, Wendy Jones, Karen Kirk, Maree Cliff, Rhonda Kohler, Choo Chee Kuang, Trichelle Lowry, Greg Lynch, Bruno Manele, Maren Mathew, Gary Neilsen, Margaret Parr, Maree Prior, Jacquie Shiels, Elmer ten Haken, John Aini, Alfred Railfo, Maxwell Salk, Posa Skelton, Ria Tan, Jo Qalo, David Idip, Leela Rajamani, Julia Rau, Rebecca Koss, Anthony Roelofs, Paul Wenzler, Fiona West, Daniella Wilken-Jones, Steve Winderlich , Siti Maryam Yaakub, Masao Yoshida
(past & present)
Bill Alston, Tania Ashworth, Mark Burnham, Sue Crocetti, Marc Dargusch, Michael Ford, Artie Jacobsen, Alice Kay, John Lindberg, Matt Lowry, Hamish Malcolm, Wayne Mathews, Moira McRae, Anne O’Dea, Sue Olsson, Angus Thompson, Nicola Udy, Kirsten Wortel, Kai Yeung
Field Volunteers
(just to name a few)
Leah Arnold, Larry Arnold, Sue Arnold, Rob Buck, Geoff Bunn, Valerie Bunn, Chris Chandler, Lynn Child, Beth Clouston, Stephen Cox, Kathryn Crouch, Lauren Curry, Ian Curtis, Sarah De Ghen, Helen Debnam, Gemma Cathy Dexter, Donahay, Di-anne Duffield, Deb Duggun, Stephanie Esentrager, Danielle Ewington, Katie Ewington, Andrew Finglas, Kathey Foi, Sean Galvin, Don Gilmour, Stephanie Goldston, Sunnee Goudy, Meredith Hall, Dinah Hall, Matthew Hamilton, Sandra Hardy, Paul Hatherell, Maureen Hickling, Jen Holt, Beryl House, Alec Hughes, Heather Hyde, Graeme Hyde, Vanessa Jamieson, Barry Johns, Bill Kane, David Kohler, Hana Larsson, Wayne Lawler, Alderd Lenting, Eileen Lewis, WJ Literacy, Trischelle Lowrey, Peter Lusk, Kathy Maskey, Chris Matthews, Ian McLaren, Debbie McManus, Evelyn Michell, Deidre Morrow, Michael Murphy, Bob Newell, Steve Nicol, Joyce Paptullo, Amanda Parr, Topa Petit, Horst Pfaller, Richie Pigeon, John Roberts, Michael Salini, Robin Salmon, John Schmidt, Paul Sysum, John Thornely, Hans VanRoey, Jason Walker, Dez Wells, Jean Wells, Jennifer Wenzler, Tara Wenzler, Andrew Wenzler, Tara Wenzler, Brett Williams, Dell Williams, John Williams, Carolyn Williams, Betty Wilson, Denise Wilson, Alice Yeates, Nicolette Yoshida, Venoma Yoshida



History of Seagrass-Watch


In the early 1990’s, Warren Lee Long and Len McKenzie (Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries) often coveted programs such as WaterWatch, which involved local citizens helping to monitor the condition of streams. They wondered if volunteers would be interested in “watching the grass grow”?

At the same time, local citizens in Hervey Bay were keen to play a role in understanding the marine environment – particularly motivated after 1992, when dead and dying dugongs began to strand in unprecedented numbers along the shores of Hervey Bay and the Great Sandy Strait. It was the community which first raised the “alarm”, that something could possibly be wrong with the seagrasses as a result of an unusual combination of floods and a cyclone. This encouraged the scientists to look and find that in fact 1000km2 of seagrass had been lost, and the dugongs were dying of starvation.

In early 1997, passionate Hervey Bay citizens formed the Hervey Bay Seagrass and Dugong Monitoring Program and their leader Jerry Comans contacted Dr Bill Dennison (UQ) and the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.

It was after a call from Jerry Comans in February 1997, that Len suggested an simple method to engage the community, and Warren suggested the name “Seagrass-Watch”. However, their initial attempts at developing a monitoring program involving community volunteers were not encouraged by their superiors. Such as program was considered as an extension exercise at best and a “waste of time”.

Nevertheless, continual lobbying from the community lead to a workshop hosted by Environment Australia in July 1997 at the University of Queensland. From there a strategy was developed to meld all concerned partners and put forward a proposal with the assistance of Dr Rob Coles for Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) funding. Two applications were eventually submitted: one for Hervey Bay and one for the Whitsundays.

On 28 March 1998 the first Seagrass-Watch training workshop was conducted in Hervey Bay (Queensland, Australia) to introduce the program and trial monitoring protocols. In April of the same year, the first international Seagrass-Watch training workshop was conducted in Trang, Thailand. From these initial workshops, several techniques were trialed (including biomass estimation, shoot counts, Braun Blanquet, etc). At the same time, community members assisted scientists with the mapping of seagrass resources in their regions. In October 1998, the inaugural Seagrass-Watch Newsletter (issue 1) was released.

In June 1999, Len proposed a monitoring method and strategy for the program, and it is the standard sampling methodology used by Seagrass-Watch today. On 9th August 1999, the first monitoring sites were established (Boonooroo, Great Sandy Strait) and by the end of year 27 sites were being regularly monitored.

The program continued to grow and on World Environment Day 2000, Seagrass-Watch was awarded The Prime Minister's Environment Award, Natural Heritage Trust Award for Rural and Regional Leadership.

In 2002 Seagrass-Watch expanded internationally with the assistance of The David & Lucile Packard Foundation and the University of New Hampshire. In October 2004 Seagrass-Watch went online to a global audience with the launch of its website

Since its 1998 launch when it offered a revolutionary new way for local citizens to participate in marine coastal monitoring through to today, Seagrass-Watch has evolved into a global seagrass and assessment monitoring program providing quality data to assist with management and protection of these valuable marine ecosystems.

The timeline below tracks the success of Seagrass-Watch and highlights some of the memorable milestones from the past ten years.

January 1997

Public meeting held in Hervey Bay (Queensland, Australia) and formation of the Hervey Bay Dugong and Seagrass Monitoring Program (HBDSMP)
6th February 1997 inaugural meeting of the Hervey Bay Dugong and Seagrass monitoring group held at Neptunes, Seaworld.
17th February 1997 Jerry Comans contacts Dr. Bill Dennison, head of the Botany Section of the University of Queensland. Dr. Dennison agrees to hold a workshop at the University for members of the committee.
17th February 1997 Jerry Comans contacts DPI&F Cairns. Len McKenzie proposes idea/approach to engage community, Warren Lee Long suggests name “Seagrass-Watch”. Proposal rejected by Senior staff.
14th July 1997 Seagrass monitoring workshop initiated by Environment Australia held at University of Queensland. DPI&F and HBDSMP also attend.
1st October 1997 strategic approach to monitoring supported at a community/Government meeting held at Hervey Bay Boat Club. Len McKenzie and Rob Coles attend from the Northern Fisheries Centre. Community engagement in monitoring supported. Strategy proposed to meld all concerned partners and put forward proposal for Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) funding.
November 1997 two NHT applications submitted (Community Seagrass-Watch and protection program – Whitsundays and Seagrass habitat, issues and management – Great Sandy Region). Len McKenzie project leader for Hervey Bay and Warren Lee Long project leader for Whitsundays.
27th - 29th March 1998 Inaugural Seagrass-Watch training workshop (Hervey Bay) - conducted by Len McKenzie, Rob Coles and Chantal Roder.
April 1998 First international Seagrass-Watch training workshop (Trang, Thailand) - conducted by Len McKenzie, Rob Coles and Warren Lee Long.
3rd July 1998 Len McKenzie presents Seagrass-Watch program to Marine Teachers Association of Queensland annual conference, Hervey Bay.
August 1998 Community volunteers begin supervised mapping of intertidal seagrass in Hervey Bay
24th September 1998 Karen Vidler employed as inaugural Seagrass-Watch Program Coordinator.
3rd October 1998 Seagrass-Watch introduced to Whitsundays in public presentations
October 1998 Inaugural Seagrass-Watch newsletter – issue 1 released
14-13th December 1998 detailed survey conducted of subtidal, deepwater and intertidal seagrasses in Hervey Bay not mapped by community volunteers.
16 November 1998 NHT applications approved
17th April 1999 further training of mapping techniques for community to map the effects of the February 1999 flood. Possible monitoring approaches discussed.
1st June 1999 application to NHT to expand Seagrass-Watch to Yule Pt and Annan River unsuccessful
June 1999 Len McKenzie develops Seagrass-Watch standard sampling methodology
June 1999 publication of Hervey Bay seagrass distribution report and monitoring sites identified
4th August 1999 Seagrass-Watch promotional video released
9th August 1999 Inaugural monitoring sites established (Boonooroo, Great Sandy Strait) and monitored using standard Seagrass-Watch methodology
25th August 1999 Monitoring sites established in Whitsundays
30th August 2000 Seagrass-Watch expands beyond Hervey Bay and Whitsundays to Cairns region.
4th June 2000 Seagrass-Watch wins The Prime Minister's Environment Award, Natural Heritage Trust Award for Rural and Regional Leadership, World Environment Day 2000
12th November 2000 Seed sampling conducted for first time (Toogoom, Hervey Bay)
7th April 2001 monitoring begins in Townsville region
2nd May 2001 monitoring begins in Moreton Bay region
2nd May 2002 Seagrass-Watch expands internationally – sites established in Papua New Guinea
8th October 2004 Seagrass-Watch website goes online
7th March 2007 Virtual herbarium goes online
28th March 2008 10th anniversary of Seagrass-Watch
28th March 2018 20th anniversay of Seagrass-Watch


Copyright © 2006-2019 Seagrass-Watch HQ. 228pp. Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the program's supporters.
Seagrass-Watch HQ
Address: Northern Fisheries Centre
PO Box 5396
Cairns Qld 4870
Phone: [07] 40 350 100