Water quality and seagrass monitoring starts at Weipa
Scientists from James Cook University, working in partnership with North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP), are deploying instruments to measure water quality, and aim to complete seagrass surveys in and around the coastal waters of Weipa.
Commencing this week, the research program is part of a new three-year partnership between the Centre for Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystems Research (TropWATER, JCU) and NQBP announced at the end of 2017.
Dr Nathan Waltham, a TropWATER co-Director of the partnership, said the water quality instruments are state-of-the-art and will help track water conditions by measuring a range of factors.
“These will include water turbidity, sediment accumulation, wave pressure, wave height, flow, available light (which is important for marine plants) and water temperature. We will also measure nutrients, plankton, and heavy metals, as a way to track water conditions,” he said.
Dr Michael Rasheed, another TropWATER co-Director of the partnership, said the group also plans to continue building on their seagrass research knowledge, which spans more than 20 years.
“We’ll be using helicopter surveys and boat-based camera sleds to assess the extent and condition of seagrass. It’s an important coastal habitat, providing food and shelter for many fish and crabs in the region,” he said.
NQBP Senior Manager Environment and Planning, Kevin Kane, said monitoring of the Weipa coastal waters was an investment in the future of the port’s activities.
“Integrating marine water quality monitoring alongside important marine habitat, such as seagrass, will assist long-term port operations in Weipa. This is particularly important when considering the community uses these coastal waters for recreation. Expectations of high standards of environmental stewardship and management are an important focus here.”
Mr Kane said in addition to the Port of Weipa, NQBP also manages three priority ports located on the shores of a World Heritage Area.
“As such it is vital to us that we lead the way in monitoring and research within the port environments we manage,” he said.
Link to video and images of the wider JCU/NQBP partnership program here.
Link to earlier story about the JCU/NQBP agreement here.