Seagrass volunteers needed to help fish

A conservation organisation is looking for divers, boaters and volunteers to help improve fish habitats in Western Australia.

The Seeds for Snapper project, run by Ozfish Unlimited, seeks to restore seagrass (Posidonia australis) to Cockburn Sound, just off the coast of Perth. It’s in its sixth year.

Seagrasses are key habitats for marine creatures like pink snapper, lobsters, and squid, and Cockburn Sound is an important ecological home. But more than half of the seagrasses in the Sound have disappeared in the past century.

The project starts with volunteer divers collecting fruit from the seagrass, then delivering the fruits to 2000-litre tanks set up at a local boat club.

People pouring seagrass fruits into tanks
Credit: OzFish Unlimited

“If we just leave it to nature most of that fruit will just detach and float away,” says Steve Pursell, OzFish’s Western Australia Program Manager.

“About 90% end up in deep water or on the beach where they can’t grow so this is where our collection team steps in.”

“We put the fruit in the tanks and circulate water; agitate it a little bit and regulate the temperature and then in about two or three days, the little fruits will pop open and because they’re very dense, the seeds will sink to the bottom of the tank.

“Once they’re ready we go out to the restoration sites, that have been determined by the researchers, and we chuck the fresh seeds over the side of the boat – like feeding the chooks.”

Person throwing seeds into ocean from boat
Credit: OzFish Unlimited

Last year, more than 400 volunteers collected and processed more than 1 million fruits.

The project is now seeking volunteer divers, onshore processors and boaters to assist again in November. Volunteers can register through the OzFish website.

OzFish is also running seagrass restoration projects in other states, which can also be found on its website.

Hand holding seagrass seed
Credit: OzFish Unlimited

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