Pots and pot shots to benefit Sydney's marine life

6 January 2014

"Are you ready for your close-up?", is the question for the starfish and crabs being photographed by submerged cameras on Sydney's foreshore. The images are part of an innovative project by the University of Sydney, to boost marine life on Sydney's foreshore.

Rebecca Morris uses flowerpots to enhance the marine habitat on artifical sea walls.
Rebecca Morris uses flowerpots to enhance the marine habitat on artifical sea walls.

"The cameras will collect valuable research data from 20 sea pots installed along the Glebe foreshore to create new habitats for fish and other sea creatures," said Rebecca Morris, a PhD candidate from the School of Biological Science'sCentre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities .The Centre is working with the City of Sydney Counciland will share results with other councils across NSW that want to create marine habitats on seawalls to encourage biodiversity.

The information will be useful for communities undergoing coastal development. "The rock pool homes of marine life such as snails, starfish, crabs and algae are slowly disappearing," said Ms Morris. In Sydney Harbour, more than 50 percent of the natural foreshore has already been replaced by seawalls. This number is only going to increase as sea levels rise and shorelines are maintained by walls, not natural shores."

The pots, the size of a large flower pot, attach to the external surface of the seawall and retain water at low tide to provide an artificial refuge for a range of marine flora and fauna. The concrete pots were designed with the help of a garden product manufacturer to find the sturdiest option. They have been found to increase the population of mobile animals by 118 percent in comparison with the seawall.

Ms Morris will install small cameras inside the pots to monitor the populations of sea life they attract, including predators, over a two-year period. She will also study the impact on the immobile sea life such as algae and invertebrates. The photos will allow Ms Morris to compare the populations of mobile predators, such as fish and crabs, in the artificial pots at Blackwattle Bay with those on the natural foreshore of Mrs Macquarie's Point. She will count the numbers of algae and mobile invertebrates to get an overall comparison of biodiversity in the two areas.

"This is a great example of how local government can collaborate with the wider community and with research scientists to achieve great outcomes for the environment," said City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

Contact: Verity Leatherdale

Phone: 02 9351 4312

Email: 1504455c384a7a432405435a173a4b32220b223015140f001f1c5d311a570734