Operation Crayweed comes to CabbageTree Bay, Manly
Restoring Sydney’s Underwater Forests – Because sometimes nature needs a helping hand
Sydney Harbour and the surrounding ocean beaches used to have
underwater forests of ‘crayweed’, a golden seaweed that provides food and
habitat to a huge range of fish and shellfish, including crayfish, lobster and
abalone. These rich environments were destroyed forty years ago by water
pollution, stormwater run-off and boat anchors, leaving bare seabed deserts in
Now the water is clean enough for the crayweed to come back, but
it can’t do it on its own. That’s where Operation Crayweed, the Lim-Sutton Initiative
and the Manly swim community come in.
Dorset Sutton heard about the lost crayweed forests, and decided
he could make a difference by partnering with SIMS and the Operation Crayweed team. We are immensely grateful for Dorset’s support and very proud that Cabbage Tree Bay, one of the most beautiful of marine environments, is now home to Operation Crayweed.
Healthy crayweed is transplanted onto a mesh mat, which is then
attached to a shallow reef. In each location, the seaweed has thrived
with ‘craybies’, crayweed babies, appearing after a few months as the new forest
starts to grow.
will use a break-through technique developed by scientists from SIMS, that is
already bringing the forests back to Sydney beaches, including Malabar, Little
Bay and Bondi.
Sutton says the scientists have found an ideal planting rock about 80m out from
the Fairy Bower cafe. “I’ve actually been swimming over it for the past
eight years,” he said. “It’s under the direct swim line from the ocean beach to
Shelly. It’s perfect, and in a few months we’ll be able to see the forest start
April 1 was planting day, with SIMS researchers and volunteer citizen scientists from
the Bold and Beautiful Swim Club and Friends of Cabbage Tree Bay helping to plant the
crayweed in its rocky new home.
just passionate about it,” Mr Sutton said. “The crayweed is nature’s
marine regeneration fuel. Cabbage Tree Bay is wonderful now but it will be even
better. There will be more fish, more blue grouper, more cuttlefish – we
already have them but the populations will grow. I’m really excited.”
course the work doesn’t stop at Cabbage Tree Bay, SIMS aims to reforest
the entire Sydney region, a 70km stretch of coastline running from Palm
Beach to Cronulla. And the same technology could help other coastlines in
trouble across Australia and around the world.
We’d like to send a huge thank you to all of the volunteers who
came down to the bay to measure, count and sort crayweed, and get in
the water with the dive team. We had a lot of fun meeting everyone and are
immensely grateful for your ongoing support. And a further thanks to all at the fabulous Bower Cafe for all their hospitality.