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Historical Wuathathi Sea grass monitoring records:

Wuthathi have identified Seagrass condition in coastal uytu (salt-waters) as an indicator for the health their Coastal Ngaachi (country) and Karakara (sea country). As such, they will conduct seagrass transect surveys at selected sites to collect data about key seagrass bed characteristics, including distribution, abundance, species diversity, density, and depth/length of seagrass.

This monitoring will be done using customised field data collection tools that ESS has developed for them, which will automatically synchronise data with their Country and Culture Information Management System/database (CCIMS) so that is can be stored, viewed and analysed.

As a starting point, Wuthathi searched eAtlas and other research databases for existing datasets about seagrass in their coastal uytu, which could be used to establish a historical baseline for this indicator.

They found transect survey data in eAtlas (an online environmental research database) dating all the way back to 1984 with data up to 2001. This data allows for analysis of seagrass presence/absence, tidal conditions and depth, all of which will be continually captured by ongoing monitoring surveys supported by this Pilot project and beyond.

ESS assisted Wuthathi to transfer this dataset into their CCIMS, where it is now securely stored and may be viewed and analysed. Each transect survey can be represented using the mapping interface in the CCIMS, so future transect surveys can occur at the same sites and continuity of sampling is maintained.

Based on the results of current monitoring and historical data, ESS will produce several data summary reports that enable Wuthathi to compare between current and historical data. These reports will be used to establish patterns of change over time and inform indicator evaluations about the health of Wuthathi seagrass.

Learning note:

Like the Wuthathi seagrass dataset, there is potentially a wealth of data that already exists that could assist Pilot TO groups to understand the health of their country (or at least help to establish a historical baseline condition). The key is knowing where to look for this data and making sure that this data is repatriated in a way that can be made sense of by the TO group when storing it in their IMS and using it to make their indicator evaluations.

Assisting Wuthathi to search for these datasets has helped us to more effectively understand the existing data landscape of the GBR (i.e. what data is available and where it might be stored). This will enable us to more effectively assist the other Pilot TO groups to find datasets that relate to their land and sea country and will help inform ongoing monitoring and indicator evaluations.

Next steps:

Once indicators have been established for each of the Pilot groups, ESS will support the CRAs to search out historical datasets that might relate to these indicators. This will primarily involve searching online databases such as eAtlas and contacting research groups/projects that have previously worked on their country.

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