More ‘underwater forests’ to be restored off Sydney’s iconic beaches

[Australia] A program to reintroduce crayweed forests to waters off Sydney’s most famous beaches will now cover 16 locations, as part of a plan to rejuvenate the underwater ecosystems there.

Ocean floor without crayweed.
Ocean floor without crayweed.

The aim of the project is to restore the variety of seaweed that once populated a 70-kilometre stretch of Sydney’s coastline before being destroyed by water pollution in the 1970s and 80s.

A scuba diver examines a crayweed plant.
A scuba diver examines a crayweed plant.

Early results from test sites were so promising that the project has been extended to 16 locations — from Whale Beach in Sydney’s north to Little Bay in the city’s south-east.

Alexandra Campbell holding crayweed.
Alexandra Campbell holding crayweed.

Dr Ezequiel Marzinelli, a senior research fellow at the University of New South Wales, said Bondi beach was just one of a number of suitable sites picked for the program.

Crayweed close-up, December 3, 2015.
Crayweed close-up, December 3, 2015.

“Coogee is going to be another one. Clovelly … and then on the northern beaches, Manly,” he said.

Dr Marzinelli said these crayweed forests are basically “underwater trees”.

A UNSW researcher with crayweed on the ocean floor, December 3, 2015.
A UNSW researcher with crayweed on the ocean floor, December 3, 2015.

“When you lose these trees, it’s like losing a terrestrial forest,” Dr Marzinelli said.

“You lose all the creatures that live on this seaweed, many of which are commercially important like abalone and crayfish.”

Urbanisation to blame for ‘crayweed disappearance’

Dr Marzinelli said this particular variety of seaweed was still present in waters north of Palm Beach.

“South of Cronulla, you also get this species.

Scuba diver with crayweed, December 3, 2015.
Scuba diver with crayweed, December 3, 2015.

“It just disappeared from Sydney, which is the most urbanised area along the entire coast of New South Wales.”

Dr Marzinelli also pointed to the release of effluent into waters around the city as a reason behind the disappearance.

A piece of crayweed floating in the ocean, December 3, 2015.

“The treatment of sewerage was not very good and it was delivered right onto our coastline,” he said.

“This species that was really abundant, disappeared from the city.”

 

View original article at: More ‘underwater forests’ to be restored off Sydney’s iconic beaches

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