Observations of change at previously surveyed saltmarsh sites

Mr Doug Fotheringham1, Ms Sharie Detmar2, Mr Jason Quinn2, Ms Alison Turner2, Ms Felicity Beswick2

1SA Herbarium DEW, Adelaide, AU, 2Coastal Management Branch DEW, Adelaide, AU

Over the last four years saltmarsh sites on Torrens Island, near Port Wakefield and at Port Pirie initially surveyed up to 30 years ago were revisited. On Torrens Island in 1990 a nine-hectare former sandpit was turned into a tidal saltmarsh and monitored.  A number of vegetation quadrats were also surveyed.  In 2015 the old photographs were compared and some of the quadrat sites were resurveyed. Due to land subsidence combined with sea level rise the island experiences a relative six-mm annual rise in sea level. Considerable change was observed which accords with the relative rise in sea level.  At Sandy Point near Pt Wakefield a 600 metre transect and two vegetation quadrats were originally surveyed in September 2000 and resurveyed in April 2018. Photographs along the transect were compared. A small landward shift in the saltmarsh communities was observed which accords with the expected effects of sea level rise.  At Pt Pirie a 3.2 km transect surveyed in November 1994 was resurveyed in November 2018. Five quadrats were resurveyed and photographs at 16 locations along the transect were compared. Considerable change was observed some of it through obvious human disturbance. Other changes appear to be from natural causes, whether these are from sea level change is unknown.  Pt Pirie  experiences land uplift and this is reflected in the long-term records of the tide gauge showing sea level falling. However, since 1997 the gauge has recorded a significant sea level rise  . More analysis is required.


1976 :BA (Hons) Geography

1978 – 82: Woods and Forests Department

1982 – 2014: Coastal Scientific Officer with the Coastal Management Branch.

2015 – Current :Honorary Research Associate SA Herbarium

From little things big things grow

Mr Corey Jackson1

1Natural Resources Amlr/ DC Yankalilla, Yankalilla, Australia

From little things big things grow is the best way to describe the community nursery at Yankalilla.  This project started as a Green Army project to create a small plant nursery capable of growing 2,000 seedlings.  This group was able to create the nursery and propagate 4,000 seedlings for coastal projects.

This success was followed by community interest through the Normanville Natural Resource to create a public facility that is growing 7,000 local native seedlings for local coastal projects and planning to double in size.

This presentation will go through the growth of this project and provide information on how you can do this too.


Corey has been working in the role of a Coastal Conservation Officer for over 10 years.  Major projects have focused on implementing the Southern Fleurieu Coastal Action Plan between Sellicks and Goolwa.  More recently two 20 Million Tree Grants at Cape Jervis and Wirrina have added an additional 100ha on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Seagrass restoration off the Adelaide coast

A/Prof. Jason Tanner1

1SARDI Aquatic Sciences, West Beach, Australia

Since 1949, ~6200 ha of seagrass has been lost off the Adelaide coast.  Much of this loss has occurred in shallow waters, with the seagrass line receding seaward, and has been attributed to increased nutrient levels from waste water treatment plants, industrial development and urban runoff.  With a concerted effort to reduce nutrient inputs, a seagrass rehabilitation program was commenced in 2002, initially trialling techniques used elsewhere, such as transplanting and planting seedlings.  However, the relatively high wave energy along the Adelaide coastline resulted in poor success.  This high wave energy, as well as high levels of bioturbation, also limit natural recolonization.  The use of hessian sandbags has proven to be more promising, as well as relatively low cost, as it works with the life history of the local Amphibolis antarctica, which viviparously produces seedlings that have evolved to entangle in things such as exposed Posidonia root matte.  The hessian sand bags provide a substitute for this root matte, which seedlings naturally attach to, and persists long enough for them to become established.  After 5-7 years, stem densities reached natural levels.  As well as recovery of the seagrasses,  the fauna have also returned to what is present in nearby natural meadows.  While more labour intensive as seedlings need to be manually planted, the bags can also be used for Posidonia.  Initially, seedlings were planted in situ by divers, but recent trials indicate that 1 year survival is similar for seedlings planted into the bags and glued in place before deployment.


Jason has been leading a team at SARDI that has been working on developing novel seagrass restoration techniques since 2002.  Among his other roles, he studies interactions between aquaculture and the environment, and the deepwater benthos of the Great Australian Bight.

The port waterways water quality improvement plan: are we there yet?

Mr Sam Gaylard1, Ms Courtney Cummings1, Mr  Peter  Pfennig1

1Environment Protection Authority, Adelaide, Australia

The Port River and Barker Inlet is an internationally recognized system of mangrove lined tidal creeks, seagrass meadows and mudflats. It is a nursery area for fish and invertebrates that drive local commercial and recreational fisheries. It is also the hub of South Australian shipping trade and historical presence of heavy industry and urbanization.

Unsurprisingly, it has long legacy of pollution issues, foremost of these the widespread eutrophication due to multiple industrial and terrestrial nutrient discharges. Water chemistry monitoring showed frequent phytoplankton blooms and consistently high water nutrient concentrations. This condition existed for decades with rafts of Ulva smothering mangroves and seagrass meadows, toxic red tides, habitat loss, acid sulphate soils and unpleasant odours.

In 2004, with the help of the Federal government, the EPA undertook a study to develop a water quality improvement plan. This was a strategy aiming to reduce the load of nutrients entering the Port River and Barker Inlet and improve its ecological condition. This work followed the National Water Quality Management Strategy to set community agreed environmental values and water quality objectives.

Fast forward 15 years and substantial nutrient load reductions have been achieved, but have these changes resulted in water quality improvement, habitat improvement and are the environmental values being met?


Sam is a marine scientist within Government with over 18 years experience in impact assessment and the monitoring and evaluation of the condition in nearshore temperate marine waters, particularly seagrass systems.

I have extensive experience in condition assessment monitoring programs including  leading the development and implementation of the South Australian near shore marine aquatic ecosystem condition reporting program, which uses multiple lines of evidence to assess habitat condition throughout South Australia.

I am currently working on how environmental decision making could be improved through the use of ecosystem services for coastal and marine ecosystems.

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