Seagrass restoration success despite heat

The annual seagrass fruit harvest known as Seeds for Snapper has ended early due to extreme heat but with more than 600,000 seeds being released into Cockburn Sound.  

That is the equivalent of about three hectares of restored seagrass meadows through the support of more than 600 registered volunteers.

Steve Pursell, WA OzFish Project Manager, has highlighted the significance of this achievement despite this year’s challenges due to weather.  

“This season we faced reduced fruit availability thanks to Mother Nature,” he said. 

“A warm November and a late heatwave sped up the ripening of the fruit.

“The volunteers were undeterred and achieved the second most successful year even though conditions weren’t as good as previous years.” 

The seagrass fruit are collected, processed in large tanks, sorted and then dispersed into areas experiencing habitat loss. The heat brought extra challenges. 

“Some of the fruit was literally ripening and releasing seed as it was going into the tanks,” Mr Pursell said.  

“The onshore team really stepped up to keep the tanks clean of fruit husks and prepare the seeds for dispersal.”  

Mr Pursell stressed the critical role of community involvement with hundreds of hours of unpaid work by dedicated community volunteers, many of whom help for weeks. 

“We owe a tremendous thanks to all our volunteers from university students, retirees to families and individuals who flew in from places as far as New York.  

“Their dedication and hard work really make this project world-class.”

Cockburn Sound has lost up to 80% of its seagrass meadows from historical pollution and human activities, and this annual project works toward restoring the health of this vital marine habitat.

Seeds for Snapper is made possible thanks to a long-standing partnership with the University of Western Australia, support from Recfishwest and Cockburn Power Boats Club with major funding provided by Daiwa Australia, Water Corporation, Synergy, MMA Offshore and BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing. 

Click below to find out more about the seagrass restoration projects happening around the country.