Project Restore Update

Project Restore has nearly completed its second RUV baseline monitoring season, with only 5 sites remaining. Fieldwork days have consisted mostly of dropping RUV (Remote Underwater Video) stands to capture fish movements at the sites. The team has now expanded the monitoring phase into epifauna, infauna and sediment sampling. 

Kelp morphometrics and epifauna sampling

To determine the health of kelp fronds and community composition of invertebrates in established kelp forests the team conducted sampling at Milk Beach & Quarantine Beach kelp forests. This data will provide baseline data of the growth and health of kelp fronds and current epifauna communities found on established kelp forests. These baseline findings will be important to establish a reference baseline of the kelp health and the small invertebrates associated with this habitat to ultimately inform, track and compare this reference to our restoration sites before and after restoration occurs. 

Kelp individuals will be harvested by divers placing a calico bag over the entire kelp plant. The holdfast is then detached from the rock using an abalone knife. This process allows the collection of as much epifauna as possible. Epifauna are the very small organisms that live underneath and around the holdfast attachment point. The samples collected were then processed in the SIMS lab, morphometrics including, wet weight, total length, overall condition, percentage of bleaching, fouled and percentage of the individual subject to herbivory. Once morphometrics are collected, samples are then sieved through a 200micromilimetre screen to retain as much epifauna as possible.  This process will be repeated in six months and again following restoration to allow comparisons between established and restored kelp forests.

Sediment Sampling

The initial sediment sampling component of Project Restore has also now commenced.  This sampling will assist with our goals outlined in the connectivity element of the project, the sampling allows data to be collected that assists with understanding the following indicators:

    • Infauna abundance and distribution across the seascape
    • Sediment organic matter enrichment
    • Total carbon and nitrogen
    • Sediment properties

The first sampling session was conducted at the end of May and will take another sample in 6 months and then again following the restoration. 25 samples will be taken across all restoration, reference and control sites.

 

Posidonia

A key phase of the Posidonia restoration process is to store the shoots temporarily at the aquaria at SIMS. Beach cast fragments are planted in the controlled environment to encourage new growth before being planted at restoration sites. The existing storage capacity was estimated to hold 400 fragments at a time, which given the significant number of shoots washing up at target locations meant the holding tanks were at capacity.  Last month, with the help of the technical team at SIMS, two additional tanks were added to the outdoor aquarium facility. This allows additional storage until planting at our restoration sites is set to commence, the facility is now able to store up to 1000 fragments.  Check out the video below to see a timelapse of the installation. 

In the next few months the team look forward to launching the Citizen Science component of Project Restore, community engagement and the start of our exciting restoration activities.

Follow @projectrestoreau on socials to find out more.