The Gulf of Carpentaria’s globally significant seagrass meadows support dugongs, green turtles, and commercially important prawns and fishes. Threats to meadow health and the species reliant upon them include: land-based water extraction and grazing, fishing and tourism activities, and climatic events such as floods and heatwaves.

Traditional owner priorities identified within the Nijinda Durlga (Gangalidda) Indigenous Protected Area Management Plan and Thuwathu/Bujimulla Indigenous Protected Area Management Plan included the need to better understand the distribution and health of seagrass meadows through expanded mapping and monitoring. This is critical to facilitate effective Sea Country management and protect and improve commercial and ecological values of these culturally important ecosystems.

This project will map intertidal seagrass habitats from the western boundary of the Nijinda Durlga (Gangalidda) and Thuwathu/Bujimulla Indigenous Protected Areas to the Bynoe River near Karumba, with particular focus on data-deficient regions along the mainland coastline of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria.


With knowledge from Traditional Owners, Gangalidda Garawa Rangers, Normanton Rangers, Wellesley Islands Rangers and scientists will collaboratively design methods, select areas, and undertake survey work using helicopters and drones. New drone technologies will be tested and refined.

Additional elements of the research are:

  • ensuring survey data is accessible to, and understandable by decision-makers;
  • implementing remote area appropriate methods that are practical for Ranger use;
  • formalising data sharing agreements developed collaboratively;
  • producing bilingual maps of benthic habitats;
  • holding on-Country meetings and summaries for Traditional Owners and research users.

Expected outcomes

  • Seagrass data to support regional planning.
  • Implementation of Traditional Owner prioritised seagrass mapping.
  • Information to support Sea Country management.
  • Improved evaluation and understanding of pressures on seagrass systems.
  • Co-design monitoring of seagrass communities.
  • Increased capacity for Rangers to independently undertake seagrass monitoring.

Project location