Dream week in Queens­land

STU­DENT AS­SISTS IN VI­TAL MARINE WORK

Avon Valley Gazette - - KALAMUNDA - Sally McGlew

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.

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