Port Stephens has the second most extensive seagrass bed in NSW, covering over 1000ha. Four species of seagrass are found within the Bay; Eelgrass (Zostera capricorni & Zostera muelleri), Strapweed (Posidonia Australia) and Paddleweed (Halophila spp).
Seagreass beds play an important part in estuarine and lake systems as they enhance biodiversity, stabilize sediment and provide critical habitat as nursery, feeding and shelter areas for many aquatic animals. They are important in maintaining water quality by using nutriants and stabilising sediments in shallow water. One acre of seagrass produces 10 tonnes of leaf litter per year and can support up to 40,000 fish and 50 million small organisms.
The Marine Parks Association is committed to establishing a monitoring program ofor seagrass communities at selected sites in the port and offshore. It will ground truth for historical comparison and determine ground cover, epiphyte cover, blade, rhizome counts and depth of mat. Through the study we will Identify and count key species in the seagrass communities and identify the role of the seagrass beds in the food chain that supports the dolphin population and recreational fishery in the port. Through studies we will Identify the effects of dredging and sedimentation on the seagrass beds in the port.