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Seagrass Watch

Eel grass

Eel grass

Seagrass is a marine plant that are adapted to living in saltwater. Many species are found throughout the Broadwater and linked waterways. Seagrass health and distribution relates to water quality coming from the Nerang, Coomera and Pimpama rivers and local creeks.

Distinctive features of seagrasses include:

  • seagrasses have flowers, fruits and seeds
  • seagrasses have separate roots, leaves and stems that spread out under soft sandy sediment
  • seagrasses have a network of veins (a vascular system) to moves nutrients and gases around the plant
  • seagrasses are highly productive (i.e. photosynthesis), requiring clear, usually shallow water to enable adequate exposure to sunlight.
Dugong Grass

Dugong grass

Seagrass beds are important systems that stabilise sediments and provide nursery habitat for prawn and fish species.

Seagrasses also form the basis of many food chains. Seagrass beds support seaweed, sponges, hydroids and eggs of many other animals which attach to the seagrass. Seagrasses are also food for marine species such as dugong and turtles.

Seagrass distribution is influenced by water quality, sediment type, turbidity and tides. In the Broadwater, there are a number of seagrass beds that vary in distribution, mainly due to the stress from increased sand and water movement and turbidity changes.

Recent studies have shown that seagrass distribution in the Broadwater is declining.

An estimated 304 hectares of seagrass was mapped in the Broadwater in 1997, however these meadows are declining. Increases in pollution and sediments in the water column can lead to the decline of seagrasses as they can smother the seagrass beds and block out light which is essential for photosynthesis.

The main two species of seagrass found in the Broadwater are eel grass and dugong grass.

For more information on seagrass and how you can become involved in Seagrass Watch in your area contact our Catchment Management Unit on 07 5581 7005.

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