Seagrass is an important part of the Gippsland Lakes ecosystem. It provides valuable habitat for fish and invertebrates, as well as stabilising the lake bed.
Seagrass provides food for fish and birds. Some birds, like swans, eat the seagrass but most fish and birds rely on eating the bugs that are eating the seagrass.
Three species grow in the Lakes, generally in depths less than 4m due where there is enough sunlight for growth.
In the deeper areas you will see Zostera nigricaulis and Ruppia spiralis, sometimes growing together. Zostera mulleri grows in shallower areas where the seagrass may be exposed by tidal movement of the water.
Top tips for helping to protect seagrass in the Gippsland Lakes
Be aware – if you live near the coast or along a river, reduce your use of fertilisers and pesticides on lawns and farms
Know your boating signs – this will prevent you running aground and damaging seagrass beds (and potentially your boat)
Know your depth and draft – when in doubt about the depth, slow down and idle. If you’re leaving a muddy trail you are probably cutting seagrass
Be on the lookout – be aware of your surroundings and look out ahead. This also helps protect marine animals (and your passengers).
Study your charts – use navigational charts, fishing maps, or local boating guides to become familiar with waterways.
For more information go to http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/park-management/environment/ecosystems/marine/seagrass-beds