The survey of the Peel-Harvey Estuary seagrass population was completed in Mandurah today with Water Minister Dave Kelly on hand to inspect the drone technology being utilised for aerial mapping.
Seagrass surveys are normally carried out using an underwater camera mounted on a vessel to observe which seagrass species are present, their density and any potential signs of stress.
Drone technology is also being utilised to map the distribution of seagrass in the Peel-Harvey estuary. The drone imagery will enable the mapping of estuary areas that are too shallow to access by boat.
The distribution of different species of seagrass, and what condition they are in, provides important information about the overall health of an estuary and can identify local areas of concern.
In the field, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) seagrass team have surveyed more than 450 locations within the 130km2 estuary over the last month, finding four species of seagrasses, including one previously unrecorded in the Peel-Harvey estuary.
The survey work will also build on the capability of the department’s trained drone pilots, using new software to allow for repeat surveys of the same flight paths.
Drone and satellite technologies are increasingly utilised in Australia and around the world to remotely gather information – complementing more traditional field methods and informing management actions.
This work is funded through the McGowan Government’s Healthy Estuaries WA program, and delivers a key action under the Peel-Harvey Estuary Protection Plan which was launched in December 2020.
Implementation of the protection plan will be further supported by an additional $5 million over four years announced during the recent State election – allowing for the expansion of the DWER partnership with Peel Harvey Catchment Council in fertiliser management, riverbank revegetation and related actions to reduce nutrients.
As stated by Water Minister Dave Kelly:
“The Peel-Harvey Estuary’s proximity to Perth, abundant natural resources and recreational opportunities make it highly valued by the community.
“Completion of this important work will help us effectively manage the health of the largest and most complex estuarine system in the south-west.
“This is a great example of how we are using the latest technology to build on our existing scientific methods, and inform future management actions to protect this important waterway.”
As stated by Dawesville MLA-elect Lisa Munday:
“The Peel-Harvey Estuary is very much at the heart of the Dawesville community.
“I’m really proud to be part of a McGowan Government that’s delivering on its commitment to protect this valuable natural asset.”
As stated by Mandurah MLA David Templeman:
“The use of drone technology is an exciting development that will provide scientists with valuable information.
“This research will help us better understand and protect the Peel-Harvey Estuary, which is much loved by the people of Mandurah and the Peel.”
As stated by Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke:
“The waterways of the Peel-Harvey Estuary are the lifeblood of the Peel and Harvey regions.
“From our local tourism and primary industries, to our leisure and lifestyle, the Murray-Wellington community depends upon a healthy Peel-Harvey estuary system.”