Assessment of key dugong and turtle seagrass resources in the northern Torres Strait
Led by: Dr Michael Rasheed, JCU
This project fills a critical information gap for dugong and turtle habitat management in the Torres Strait. It describes seagrasses in a recently identified data deficient region in northern Torres Strait that contains large dugong and turtle populations and is the subject of a proposed extension of the existing Dugong Sanctuary. The baseline assessments will form the foundation for ongoing monitoring, and provide essential information to the TSRA, Australian and Queensland governments for dugong and turtle management plans, complimenting dugong and turtle research studies in the region and building skills and capacity of Traditional Owners and Rangers.
Seagrasses provide critical habitat and food for turtle, and dugong in the Torres Strait they support the world’s largest dugong population. However, seagrasses remain undescribed or inadequately surveyed in a large area of the Torres Strait containing some of the highest population densities for dugong and turtle. This region between Deliverance and Boigu Island and extending to the PNG coastline and south to Orman Reefs (see Map) is the subject of considerable focus for dugong and turtle management with planned investigations of an extension of the Dugong Sanctuary and an increased focus of dugong and turtle management and research. Seagrass information is critical for successful planning and management in this region.
How Research Addresses Problem
This project provides baseline seagrass mapping to develop informed management plans and assessments of spatial closures, as well as a key reference point for monitoring the status of seagrass. The project applies mapping and assessment methods implemented by the team in the Torres Strait and Queensland to produce a resource atlas and GIS. The team includes our established seagrass research partners in the Torres Strait LSMU with ranger participation in the work and also direct links with dugong and turtle researchers and programs to ensure relevance and end-user uptake.
Seagrass; Dugong; Spatial management; Torres Strait; Turtle.
This project is jointly funded through JCU, TSRA and the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme.