Breen Resources and SIMS (Sydney Institute of Marine Science) are together restoring the lost underwater forests through visionary science.
Breen Resources funded Operation Crayweed’s Kurnell restoration site back in 2018. Tom Breen discovered Operation Crayweed through SIMS, the Sydney Institute of Marine Science.
The Sydneysider’s in the 80’s will remember when Bondi Beach wasn’t the tourist-enthused, pristine beach it’s famously known for today, due to the sewage waste along the beach. By the end of 1992 however the NSW government changed the sewage system to a deep ocean outfall, located 2.2km out to sea and 63 meters below sea level. This decision drastically improved the water and air quality in Bondi.
The after effect of the sewages was not known until around 2008, when sampling was done along a 70km stretch across Sydney’s coastline (From Palm Beach to Cronulla). It was then discovered the crayweed – an important forest-forming seaweed – was missing. Older data including photographs and herbarium records show the crayweed did once exist along Sydney’s exposed rocky reefs and the downward trend combined with location of the lack of crayweed and its known susceptibility to poor water quality, points to the older sewage systems that where in place in Sydney as the likely main cause.
By 2008, the damage had been done for decades. But surely there had to be a solution? That is when Operation Crayweed started to research into technology and solutions to restore the crayweed.
They first trialed their research and technology in Long Bay in 2012 and almost immediately saw sea-changing differences.
Tom Breen took interest in the project and decided to fund the project specifically in Kurnell, which is located 6km from Breen Resources home for the past 70 years (330 Captain Cook Drive, NSW 2423).
The site at Kurnell was slightly different to the other locations due to the fact they were not just trying to restore crayweed but also remove over 4800 urchins to enhance the results further. The removal of the urchins allowed for the underwater seaweed forests to return (including the golden kelp!). This also resulted in the repopulation of various seaweed-associated marine life including lobsters, which vastly improved Kurnells coastline for all on shore and in sea.
Now you must be wondering – how do they do it? How do they recreate crayweed? They take adult male and female crayweed from various locations nearby and attach it to mat’s which are then put onto the rocky reefs of the coastline. The crayweed reproduces very quickly creating unique juvenile crayweed that embeds itself onto the rock, creating naturally grown crayweed. One of the fascinating things about crayweed is the fact it reproduces so quickly, therefore creating and extending life, this is one of the many reasons why the project works so well. Throughout Operation Crayweed, they have seen growth 100’s of meters from the original planted location, proving the project to be successful.
All existing sites will continue to be surveyed and maintained to ensure the new crayweed is not destroyed by outside influences like polluted water from flooding, rising sea temperature levels and other environmental effects, as these issues have decreased success in more exposed areas like Kurnell. In the next 3-5 years, Operation Crayweed hope to restore the entire 70km stretch of missing crayweed. If you want to read the full report of the Kurnell sites progress and results you can do so by clicking here.