Secchi Disk Marine Project e-News

Welcome to the the Secchi Disk Project e-news. The Secchi Disk Marine Project is a citizen science project investigating water turbidity in Gulf St Vincent. Along with nutrient discharges, turbid inputs into the Gulf have the greatest impact of coastal water quality and seagrass health. The project is managed by the Friends of Gulf St Vincent with support from Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges NRM.


News and upcoming events

Welcome to 2019
Thanks for reading our first secchi newsletter for 2019.
Some interesting facts about 2019. It will be the international year of indigenous language, and the UN environmental assembly have designated the theme for 2019 the year for  innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production. Something that is applicable both on land and our marine environment.
State Government consultation of single-use plastics ends 22nd February
Have your say on single-use plastics before 22nd February.
There is a Discussion Paper and Summary Paper asking the public to consider which single-use plastic items the government should consider addressing and what is the best approach to reduce the use of single-use plastics.
The public can provide feedback via an online discussion forum, completing an online survey, emailing a written submission to or sending a written submission to:
Green Industries SA (GISA) 
GPO Box 1047 
Adelaide SA 5001
Gunk in the Gulf
The state government consultation on single-use plastics follows last years' Friends of Gulf St Vincent forum, "Gunk in the Gulf" focusing on marine debris, in particular plastics.

Presenters, John Philips (KESAB), Kristian Peters (AMLR NRM), marine biologist Sue Gibb and marine ecology advocate Sarah-Jo Lobwein, discussed the challenges of recycling plastic, the dominance of plastics on SA beaches (85% plastics with around half being plastic fragments), the horrific impacts of plastic ingestion and entanglement of marine life and what work is being done to reduce this.

The issue of microplastics (plastic pieces less than 5mm) in our oceans was also discussed. And this isn't just an issue in the ocean. A recent study found that 83% of tap water around the world is contaminated with microplastics and an average of 20 microplastic particles for every 10 grams of human stool samples. These are all the plastics we can't see in our toothpastes, our cosmetics, facial scrubs, fibres that erode off our polyester clothes in the wash, and plastics in the seafood we eat.

Even scarier than microplastics is the potential for nanoplastics, which currently can't be detected, but if present have potential to penetrate cells and organ tissue.

Make sure you have your say on single-use plastics.
New Environment Centre at Port Adelaide
The Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges now have a 9th Environment Centre centred on the coast. The Port Environment Centre will operate out of a Renewal SA building at 27 North Parade, Port Adelaide. The doors will open to the community after some interior refurbishing.
The Environment Centre will offer a space for community groups to meet and will offer a range of environmental information, activities, and opportunities. As well as general environment and sustainability topics, the centre will have a particular focus on coast and marine. A program of activities will be developed over the coming months. Look out for further updates on the Facebook page.
Outer Harbor dredging approved
EPA has decided to authorise Flinders Ports dredging with an EPA licence. The channel will be widened from 130m to 170m, and the dredged waste will be dumped in the same place as the 2005 dredging. The EPA admits there will be 4 hectares of native vegetation clearance where seagrass is dredged and that they will not be able to totally prevent loss of seagrass.

The conditions for the licence are now being prepared. Some of the key elements EPA hopes to regulate are monitoring of seagrass before and after, develop a risk management strategy for Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) and strategies to minimise spread of Caulerpa taxifolia. The licence will also include "conditions that specify when works will require further management actions to reduce turbidity or when work must stop altogether, with real-time alarms if the water becomes too cloudy. The licence will also require water-quality monitoring, and this data will be made available to the public."

The Secchi project will also be watching and reporting.
More info at:  
The Australian Marine Conservation Society has a new website
Urge for protection of Blue Carbon sites
The ocean stores a staggering 93% of all carbon on Earth, and captures nearly as much man-made carbon dioxide pollution than terrestrial plants, and hence the term blue carbon is increasingly come into play when discussing carbon storage and capture.

Dr Peter Macreadie, of the Blue Carbon Lab and Associate Professor at Deakin University, recently discussed this with ABC radio. The transcript can be found via the link below.
Dr Macreadie indicated that seagrass meadows, along with saltmarshes and mangrove habitat, captures carbon 40 times faster than tropical rainforests and is keep to see such habitat better protected and used in carbon credit schemes.

Apparently seagrass, saltmarsh and mangroves cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, however are responsible for half the ocean's carbon storage.

When we are losing seagrass faster than we are losing rainforests in the Amazon, due to turbidity and nutrient pollution this obviously raises serious concerns for the future of climate change.

According to Dr Macreadie we are losing 1-3% of these ecosystems every single year in Australia, which is equivalent to having an extra 10 million cars on the road.

Other research also suggests oceans are becoming less capable of absorbing carbon dioxide as we release more CO2 and the oceans become more acidic. So it's a catch 22 situation. The worse emission become the less capable seagrass and our oceans will be at capture CO2 in the air, leading to further ocean degradation.

Turbidity trends: recent trends and hot spots around Gulf St Vincent
Yes it's still dry, with no rainfall in most locations during January, so there's been little to no run-off.
Secchi readings remained quite high and water clear across Summer with high readings of 510cm at Pt Noarlunga. Low readings (turbid water) of 125cm was found once at Largs Bay an 120cm at West Beach but all other reaings have been well above this.


Sampling Site Spotlight

A closer look at secchi sites: Stansbury Jetty
A dedicated couple of volunteers have taken readings at Stansbury jetty since 2015. The existing jetty was opened in 1905 and has a t-junction 308 metres out to sea. At low tide the water is generally just over 2 metres.

With generally less development, stormwater and wastewater runoff, the western side of Gulf St Vincent is relatively clear adjacent the Yorke Peninsula coastline. Readings range from 282 – 430cm with a current average of 359cm.

This side of the Gulf is very shallow which presents a challenge when taking Secchi readings as the disk often hits the bottom of the ocean floor.
Ignoring this obstacle, the data shows a slight improvement in water quality. When completing a linear regression the slope is 0.023.

If only the readings are plotted where the disk does not touch the seafloor, a similar trend is visible.
The slight improvement that these graphs suggest could be due to improved land management leading to improvements in water quality.
Copyright © 2018 Friends of Gulf St Vincent, All rights reserved.

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Secchi Disk Marine Monitoring Project · Secchi Project · Adelaide, South Austrlia 5000 · Australia

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