Seaweed and animal species long missing from manmade shorelines are set to return to Rushcutters Bay thanks to a new ‘living seawall’
The living seawall of 90 habitat panels runs along two 12-metre stretches of the foreshore, providing local marine life with nooks and crevices to live in and encouraging more seaweed and animal species to return.
The panels were installed by the SIMS, with support from the City of Sydney, following the success of projects in other locations across Sydney Harbour.
Co-leader of the SIMS Living Seawalls project, Associate Professor Melanie Bishop, said the aim was to bring back marine life to the manmade seawalls that make up half of Sydney Harbour’s shoreline, increase biodiversity and improve water quality.
“More than 50 per cent of the Sydney Harbour shoreline is made up of seawalls and research shows these seawalls do not support biodiversity in the same way as natural shorelines,” Associate Professor Bishop said.
“We’re increasing biodiversity by bringing back missing microhabitats such as rock pools and crevices. These will provide more space for barnacles and seaweeds to live, while small fish, snails and crabs will be able to hide inside the holes and crevices.”
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City was proud to support the program with a $20,000 grant in 2019. “Sydney boasts the world’s most beautiful harbour, home to an array of marine life that need our ongoing support and protection,” the Lord Mayor said. “The living seawall panels installed at Rushcutters Bay will enhance the local marine ecosystem and protect our harbour from manmade environmental challenges.
“Innovative projects like this will become even more important as we deal with the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. As coastal areas face inundation and flooding, we will undoubtedly see an increase in seawalls being constructed. This living seawalls program shows we can find solutions to protect and enhance biodiversity in areas undergoing rapid change.”
SIMS Living Seawalls project manager, Dr Maria Vozzo, said marine scientists will continue to monitor the microhabitats of each panel and the changing nature of local ecosystems. “We anticipate that the habitat panels at Rushcutters Bay will encourage growth of a variety of marine species, including oysters and mussels that help improve water quality, seaweeds that provide food for marine life and help sequester carbon, and snails, limpets, crabs and chitons,” Dr Vozzo said. “We also expect small fish like blennies and gobies to use the panels as habitat and larger fish like luderick or bream to use the panels as foraging grounds.”
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