Dr Alex Carter
James Cook University
Synthesising three decades of seagrass spatial data from Torres Strait and Gulf of Carpentaria
The Gulf of Carpentaria and Torres Strait have globally significant seagrass meadows that provide food for threatened dugong and turtle, and habitat for commercially important fish and prawns. Key to understanding, managing, mitigating risk, and monitoring seagrass in this remote region is reliable data on seagrass distribution and species composition and how this changes through time. There are few spatial data sets publicly available that document long-term changes in seagrass communities. Compiling spatial data has not occurred for the Gulf of Carpentaria, and is not up-todate for Torres Strait. There is a risk that older data is not secure and, if not compiled and validated, is in danger of being lost (with some early 1980s data already lost).
Our study will compile, validate and synthesize historical seagrass spatial data to create a publicly available database accessible on eAtlas. This product will provide end-users with a valuable spatial resource to assist management and monitoring of seagrass in the region. At the completion of this project we will have essential knowledge of the location and composition of key environmental assets (seagrass and seagrass species), or where seagrass information is deficient (knowledge gaps), in the Gulf of Carpentaria and Torres Strait. This will provide management agencies, rangers, Traditional Owners, ports, industry, and researchers with a spatial resource describing seagrass populations against which to benchmark change.
Torres Strait, Cape York and Gulf of Carpentaria.