IMAS researchers today released the results of the latest survey of environmental conditions in Macquarie Harbour, carried out as part of a research project studying oxygen dynamics and conditions on the bottom of the harbour.
IMAS Research Fellow Dr Jeff Ross said regular updates are being provided on the project, which is designed to inform the long-term sustainable management of the harbour.
survey highlighted an improvement in bottom water oxygen conditions but little
change in faunal communities in the sediments since the deterioration in spring
2016,” Dr Ross said.
survey has now documented some encouraging signs of faunal recovery.”
Dr Ross said
the spread of the bacterial mat Beggiatoa around leases had retracted
and oxygen conditions through the middle of the year have improved.
these observations are encouraging, oxygen levels in the middle of the water
column remain very low and bottom waters are decreasing with the onset of
spring, and so there is still the potential for dissolved oxygen levels to
return to critically low levels.
IMAS survey begins in October and this is the same time of year that oxygen
levels reached critically low levels and the conditions of the sediments
deteriorated in recent years.
of the next survey will reveal how far the system has recovered since late last
year,” Dr Ross said.
A key element of the project is the
modelling of water movement and oxygen, led by the CSIRO’s Dr Karen Wild-Allen.
Dr Wild-Allen said the CSIRO model of
Macquarie Harbour is simulating the movement of water in real time and
providing forecasts three days in advance.
“Importantly, we are using the model to
track oxygen in the harbour, which will help to unravel the drivers of the
oxygen levels we are now observing,” Dr Wild-Allen said.
“Our results have already demonstrated
the importance of oceanic water flowing in over the shallow and narrow entrance
to the harbour in influencing oxygen levels in the bottom waters, and of the seasonal
influence of weather and river conditions.
“The model suggest that oxygen replenishment of the bottom waters is more likely to occur when river flows are low,” Dr Wild-Allen said
The CSIRO model has also been used to
understand the ‘age’ of different parts of the water column.
Dr Wild-Allen said it was clear that
the water in the middle of the water column is resident in the system for the
longest period of time and that this helps explain why this region is where the
lowest levels of oxygen are often seen.
The project is
funded by the Australian Government’s Fisheries Research and Development
Corporation (FRDC), the Tasmanian Government, and aquaculture companies, and is
due for completion in early 2018.
The latest report,
together with those released in May and January, can be found on the IMAS website. The next update will be released in early
Published on: 05 Oct 2017 12:10pm