11 Jan 2018
Monitor water quality characteristics in the Wenlock River system
The 300 kilometre long Wenlock River is a system of major ecological and cultural importance with high scenic values, and holds evidence of evolutionary connections with New Guinea. It provides food sources for locals, is used recreationally by anglers, campers, and naturalists, as well as by commercial fishers. The river has among the highest freshwater fish diversity of any system in Australia; the highest density of estuarine crocodiles Crocodylus porosus in Queensland and the best nesting habitat; and outstanding stands of mangrove forests, including the largest stands of Nypa Palms Nypa fruiticans in Australia.
The river provides crucial habitat for species of major conservation significance and threatened species, including the endangered spear tooth shark Glyphis glyphis and large toothed sawfish Pristis pristis, river whipray Himantura dalyensis, and Australian snub finned dolphin Oracella heinsohni. A combination of sandstone and bauxite springs provides permanent freshwater flow below the junction of Dry Creek, this perennial nature has been found to contribute to the specific estuarine habitat requirements of spear tooth sharks, and likely to do so with other species, including the extensive Nypa Palm.
The riparian rainforest along the Wenlock connects the rainforests of eastern Cape York with those (and mangrove communities) of western Cape York. This important corridor, along with the linked spring complexes, provides crucial habitat for species of major conservation importance, including species which also occur in new Guinea, eg; Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus, Spotted Cuscus Spilocuscus maculatus, Magnificent Rifle Bird Plioris magnificus and Yellow billed Kingfisher Symo torotoro. The rainforest emergent tree Crudia abbreviata is endemic to the Wenlock and Archer Rivers.
Project outcomes: Ongoing monitoring of water quality characteristics, in estuarine and freshwater habitats, over all seasonal regimes, to detect seasonal changes and changes that may be attributable to climate change and human activities. Data to be collected on water temperature, and conductivity/salinity. Plan to expand, including monitoring of turbidity subject to future funding. Project will incorporate, where possible existing data bases from other agencies, and serve a central data base.