Ecological assessment data of the marine flora and fauna of Point Lookout in 2014 (PLEA)
2019-11-23T13:01:28Z (GMT) by
In 2014, UniDive (The University of Queensland Underwater Club) conducted an ecological assessment of the Point Lookout Dive sites for comparison with similar surveys conducted in 2001. Involvement in the project was voluntary. Members of UniDive who were marine experts conducted training for other club members who had no, or limited, experience in identifying marine organisms and mapping habitats. Since the 2001 detailed baseline study, no similar seasonal survey has been conducted. The 2014 data is particularly important given that numerous changes have taken place in relation to the management of, and potential impacts on, these reef sites. In 2009, Moreton Bay Marine Park was re-zoned, and Flat Rock was converted to a marine national park zone (Green zone) with no fishing or anchoring. In 2012, four permanent moorings were installed at Flat Rock. Additionally, the entire area was exposed to the potential effects of the 2011 and 2013 Queensland floods, including flood plumes which carried large quantities of sediment into Moreton Bay and surrounding waters. The population of South East Queensland has increased from 2.49 million in 2001 to 3.18 million in 2011 (BITRE, 2013). This rapidly expanding coastal population has increased the frequency and intensity of both commercial and recreational activities around Point Lookout dive sites (EPA 2008). Methodology used for the PLEA project was based on the 2001 survey protocols, Reef Check Australia protocols and Coral Watch methods. This hybrid methodology was used to monitor substrate and benthos, invertebrates, fish, and reef health impacts. Additional analyses were conducted with georeferenced photo transects. The PLEA marine surveys were conducted over six weekends in 2014 totaling 535 dives and 376 hours underwater. Two training weekends (February and March) were attended by 44 divers, whilst biological surveys were conducted on seasonal weekends (February, May, July and October). Three reefs were surveyed, with two semi-permanent transects at Flat Rock, two at Shag Rock, and one at Manta Ray Bommie. Each transect was sampled once every survey weekend, with the transect tapes deployed at a depth of 10 m below chart datum. Fish populations were assessed using a visual census along 3 x 20 m transects. Each transect was 5 m wide (2.5 m either side of the transect tape), 5 m high and 20 m in length. Fish families and species were chosen that are commonly targeted by recreational or commercial fishers, or targeted by aquarium collectors, and that were easily identified by their body shape. Rare or otherwise unusual species were also recorded. Target invertebrate populations were assessed using visual census along 3 x 20 m transects. Each transect was 5 m wide (2.5 m either side of the transect tape) and 20 m in length. The diver surveying invertebrates conducted a 'U-shaped' search pattern, covering 2.5 m on either side of the transect tape. Target impacts were assessed using a visual census along the 3 x 20 m transects. Each transect was 5 m wide (2.5 m either side of the transect tape) and 20 m in length. The transect was surveyed via a 'U-shaped' search pattern, covering 2.5 m on either side of the transect tape. Substrate surveys were conducted using the point sampling method, enabling percentage cover of substrate types and benthic organisms to be calculated. The substrate or benthos under the transect line was identified at 0.5m intervals, with a 5m gap between each of the three 20m segments. Categories recorded included various growth forms of hard and soft coral, key species/growth forms of algae, other living organisms (i.e. sponges), recently killed coral, and, non-living substrate types (i.e. bare rock, sand, rubble, silt/clay).