The waters and islands known as Keppel Bay are located 15km east of Yeppoon, just north of the Tropic of Capricorn.
The bay is studded with islands ranging from bare rock to large islands such as North Keppel Island (627ha) and Great Keppel Island (1,454ha).
The Keppel islands boast beautiful coral reefs with spectacular underwater landscapes, with coral recognised as relatively resilient with quick-to-recover or thermally tolerant species.
After two preceding trials at Green Island and Bait Reef, a multi-stakeholder team comprising of Queensland and the Australian government, Traditional Owners, commercial tourism operators and researchers have joined to deliver the Yarul Dhingiga Keppel Bay Reef rehabilitation project.
This project aims to trial reef rehabilitation techniques on the in-shore fringing reefs of Great Keppel Island and at a smaller site at Humpy Island Reef. This location provides an excellent opportunity for collaboration among stakeholders and opportunities for education and awareness among visitors.
- Yarul Dhingiga used:
- 170+ reef stars at Monkey and Shelving Reefs
- 20+ reef stars at Humpy Island Reef
- 3000+ corals of opportunity
- Regular, ongoing site management and detailed monitoring will be completed over a five-year period to:
- Establish the level of habitat recovery
- Learn more about how Reef Stars might be integrated into the work of Marine Park managers in the future.
- This project aims to:
- Promote hard coral coverage in popular snorkelling reefs on Great Keppel Island where coral rubble and macroalgae are hampering recovery.
- Provide technical and field training for Marine Parks staff, project partners and Traditional Owners in the use of ‘Reef Stars’ as a reef rehabilitation tool.
- Support access to the rehabilitation sites by local tourism operators and their clients and the public to build awareness and understanding about the pressures on the Great Barrier Reef and the evolving efforts to mitigate some of these.
- Develop and trial rehabilitation tools for our reef management toolbox should we need them in the future.
Why Keppel Bay?
- Although Keppel Bay Reefs are generally resilient to human activities pressures, there is also a small amount of degraded fringing reef habitat.
- Areas of rubble (some with a high algae biomass) that are showing minimal or slow recovery have been identified and will be targeted as part of this project.
One type of rehabilitation tool that has been used across all three project sites on Yarul Dhingiga, is the MARRS Reef Star.
Mars Assisted Reef Restoration System (MARRS) reef stars
Reef stars are hexagonal metal frames that can be placed on the seabed. In areas of loose coral rubble, they provide a stable platform for live coral fragment attachment.
These coral fragments can then continue to grow and eventually completely cover the reef star structure.
They were originally developed by Mars Incorporated for use in Indonesia to rehabilitate reefs impacted by blast fishing but have since been trialled by the Reef Authority at Green Island and within Project Reefresh: Bait Reef.
Preparation continues for the upcoming installation of Mars Reef Stars at Great Keppel and Humpy Islands with initial pre-installation surveys and marking out of project sites using small star pickets.
After consultation with the Woppaburra TUMRA, the project is named Yarul Dhingiga meaning Yarul - connecting rope and Dhingiga - setting down
On Thursday 13 October live coral fragments will be attached to the reef stars from a temporary work base at Shelving Beach.
This will be an ideal opportunity for the local community to engage with the project and possibly help with tying coral fragments
- Reef intervention trials like this one are:
- Not a replacement for major global action to address greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change on coral reefs globally.
- Not a replacement for continued efforts to address other impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.
- Designed to assist natural recovery processes in small areas of reef that have been impacted by environmental stressors.
- Potentially very useful to improve the condition of ‘high-value’ areas of the reef (for example popular tourist sites or an area with identified specific high ecological value).
- Examples of partnership actions that may become more broadly used across the Great Barrier Reef.
- Designed to include technical and field-based training for stakeholders and ongoing monitoring and reporting to help improve scientific understanding and measure levels of success.
The Woppaburra people are the Traditional Owners of the Keppel Islands. Archaeological evidence linking the Woppaburra to the islands includes midden sites, burial sites, a bora ring, huts, stone artefacts and campsites.
Some of these remains are thought to be approximately 5000 years old.
The totem of the Woppaburra is the humpback whale.