Dream week in Queensland
STUDENT ASSISTS IN VITAL MARINE WORK
JADE Harris has just returned from a week where she assisted the Queensland government in its battle to save blighted sea grasses.
Working with Dr James Undie, from James Cook University, Jade (16), a student at Swan View Senior High School, said she became an integral part of the project.
“We don’t have the same problem with our native seagrasses in WA, as they are quite healthy,” she said.
Dr Undie told the students who had travelled from all over Australia to be part of the research project that the problems for sea grasses in Queensland had arisen because of a gray algae.
“The algae has been acting as a predator on the sea beds and on the coral reef and we were in dinghies travelling over this area to observe the damage to the reef,” Jade said.
Dr Undie told the students who were part of the Follow the Dream program that their work had contributed significantly to the research, which had been driven by the sad fact that the sea grasses had stopped reproducing.
The students had to gather sea grass portions and count the strands for the researchers and file them into beakers for testing, along with some sediment on the bottom of the reef.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Jade, who had not been to Queensland before, said.
Jade said dugongs and small fish like trumpeter and whiting used the sea grass for food and hibernation.
“It is quite scarce now and they are researching how they can bring it back in numbers,” she said.
Most of the research took place around North Stradbroke Island.
Jade said the project had connected her to other indigenous youth around Australia and they would keep in touch.
“This has been an exciting project and I have gathered more confidence from the experience,” she said.
Swan View Senior High School program co-ordinator Nicola Angel said the students were passionate about their research.
“It has motivated them to consider science and marine biology as a possible university option, which is wonderful,” she said.
Jade Harris has been tackling sea grasses in Queensland.
Jade (blue jacket) with other students at the site off North Stradbroke Island.