The Wetland Book pp 1967-1975 | Cite as

Seagrass Meadows of Northeastern Australia

  • Robert G. ColesEmail author
  • Michael A. Rasheed
  • Alana Grech
  • Len J. McKenzie
Reference work entry


The enormous seagrass meadows that stretch along the shallow coastal waters of Northeastern Australia from intertidal banks to about 60 m deep are of great importance to ecosystem functionality. A large proportion of these meadows are remote from human populations and anthropogenic impacts, and many are inaccessible and rarely visited by people. The meadows provide a range of important ecological services and support economically valuable fish and shrimp populations, and some of the largest remaining populations of the dugong (Dugong dugon) and green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas). Northeastern Australia’s fifteen seagrass species represent just over 20% of the world’s 72 species. The greatest impact to seagrasses along the Great Barrier Reef coast comes from agricultural runoff, followed by urban and industrial runoff, urban port and infrastructure development, dredging, shipping accidents, bottom trawling, boat damage, and other fishing methods. Even in the areas of lower anthropogenic disturbance such as the Gulf of Carpentaria, the influence of predicted climate change on seagrasses may lead to substantial future impacts. The challenge in the future will be to mitigate the impacts of development from urban and agricultural activity where these may interact synergistically with increasing ecological pressure from climate change.


Seagrass Great Barrier Reef Dugong Turtles 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert G. Coles
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael A. Rasheed
    • 1
  • Alana Grech
    • 2
  • Len J. McKenzie
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem ResearchJames Cook UniversityCairns and TownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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