Distribution of Seagrasses, and Their Fish and Penaeid Prawn Communities, in Cairns Harbour, a Tropical Estuary, Northern Queensland, Australia

R. G. Coles, W. J. L. Long, R. A. Watson, K. Derbyshire, (1993). Marine and Freshwater Research 44, 193-210.

From aerial photography (July 1987) and diving surveys (February 1988), 876 ha of seagrasses (eight species) were mapped in Cairns Harbour, tropical north-eastern Queensland. Zosteru cupricorni was the most common seagrass species and had the greatest biomass at 79 9 m-2 dry weight of stems and leaves and 180 9 m-2 dry weight of roots and rhizomes. The maximum shoot density found was 4798 shoots m-2 of Hulodule pinijoliu, the second most common species. Seagrasses were found only between 0.5 and 5.0 m below mean sea level. Zosteru cupricorni was found at the shallowest depths, Hulodule pinifoliu at the deepest depths. Twenty species of penaeid prawns, nine of which are marketed commercially, were sampled from the seagrass beds. Abundances of prawns of commercial species were significantly greater on seagrass-covered substrata than on nonvegetated substrata. Overall, 5614 mostly small or juvenile fish, representing 134 taxa, were sampled from seagrasses in Cairns Harbour. The most numerous fish species were a goby, Yongeichthys criniger, and a pony fish, Leiognuthus splendens. Only 15 species were highly valued as recreational fish, and only 11 species were highly valued as commercial fish. Of the fish species, five (4%) were highly valued species of both groups. The density of fish on the seagrass beds was estimated to be 8809 fish ha-1.

1448-6059, http://www.ecomarres.com/downloads/MF9930193.pdf