Frequently Asked Questions

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Can't find what you're looking for? Get answers to the most frequently asked questions with our FAQs

Cost, Monitoring kit, Time involved, Logo use
What is training, How much is
Site code, Permits, Sampling design
Submission, Non-compliant, Data ownership

General Questions

There are no costs to join Seagrass-Watch. It’s free! The only cost to participate is the equipment to conduct the monitoring and if you would like a training session by Seagrass-Watch HQ.

A monitoring kit will cost between AUD$600-$1000.  Cost will be reduced if multiple kits are purchased.

Necessary equipment and materials

  • 3x 50 metre measuring tapes
  • 6x 50cm plastic tent pegs
  • compass
  • 1x standard (50cm x 50cm) quadrat
  • 3x monitoring datasheets
  • Clipboard, pencils & 30 cm ruler
  • Quadrat photo labeller
  • Seed corer
  • Kitchen sieve
  • Percent cover
  • standard sheet
  • Seagrass identification sheets
  • First Aid kit

Additional items

  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Digital camera

Anyone over 18 years of age, can join and participate in Seagrass-Watch. Most participants in the global program are from scientific institutions and agencies (including academic, government and non-government). Community volunteers are one component of Seagrass-Watch.

All it requires is an interest in the conservation, assessment and monitoring of seagrasses in your area and a willingness to volunteer some of your valuable time. Seagrass-Watch is driven by local interest and local needs. The program is a collective network of participants ultimately interested in seagrass conservation.

As part of Seagrass-Watch QAQC (Quality Assurance/Quality Control), at least 1 participant at each monitoring event must have passed a Seagrass-Watch training course or have a degree (or similar) in environmental/marine science and is able to demonstrate competency in Seagrass-Watch methods & protocols.

For participants 17 yrs and under, please see: Seagrass-Watch Education

Insurance liability cover has been an important issue since Seagrass-Watch started in 1998.

When a group is established, they are advised that Seagrass-Watch HQ only provides technical support and does not direct local on-ground activities (with the exception of MMP).

As Seagrass-Watch HQ does not direct local on-ground activities, it is the responsibility of the principal participant to ensure they and any accompanying participants are adequately covered by General Liability Insurance.

Participants are recommended to be members of an incorporated group or a local or state organisation which covers liability insurance.

Seagrass-Watch HQ shall not be liable for claims in respect to bodily injury or damage to property of the Principal participant, any family member of the Principal participant or any participant accompanying the Principal participant in the field.

Seagrass-Watch HQ shall not be liable to pay or contribute any compensation, cost, charges or expenses in relation to any insurance claims relating to Seagrass-Watch related activities.

One monitoring session generally takes about two hours over low tide to complete once you have become familiar with the methods.

The amount of funding required by a group to participate is dependent on several factors, and groups should evaluate their needs. Most of these needs are identified when designing the monitoring strategy, and may include a kit of equipment necessary for monitoring, funds to cover travel and funds to provide on-ground scientific support.

Regular visits by Seagrass-Watch HQ scientists can be expensive and groups should consider mechanisms for autonomy without compromising data quality and data assurance.

Scientific support is required for interpretation of the data and Seagrass-Watch HQ can provide regular feedback on the trends in seagrass meadow status and condition.

Seagrass-Watch HQ also plays an important role in feeding information to relevant coastal management agencies.

We at Seagrass-Watch HQ are willing to provide technical, data (including archiving) and scientific support (including some analysis). We can also include your work on the website and within extension materials to raise the profile of your efforts.

The graphic identity of Seagrass-Watch is significant in properly representing the program’s image. Care has been taken to design a visual symbol that is clear and simple.

The Seagrass-Watch logo represents four important elements of the program: seagrass (represented by Halophila leaves because it is a genus found globally); water (represented by a wave); human (represented by an eye); and innovation (represented by text in the hand writing of Leonardo da Vinci).

  • Do not modify or alter the Seagrass-Watch identity (logo/name) or use them in a confusing way, including suggesting approval, sponsorship or endorsement by Seagrass-Watch/HQ, or in a way that confuses Seagrass-Watch with another brand.
  • Don’t present the Seagrass-Watch identity (logo/name) in a way that makes it the most distinctive or prominent feature on your web page, printed material, or other content.
  • Don’t use Seagrass-Watch identity (logo/name) in a way that is deceptive, harmful, obscene, or otherwise objectionable to Seagrass-Watch.
  • You may not present or feature the Seagrass-Watch identity (logo/name) on websites containing content associated with pornography, gambling, or illegal activities.
  • You must keep sufficient space around the Seagrass-Watch identity (logo/name) so it appears clean and uncluttered.
  • You may not combine Seagrass-Watch identity (logo/name), or elements of Seagrass-Watch identity (logo/name), with your own name or mark or generic terms.
  • Do not use trademarks, logos, or other content that is confusingly similar to the Seagrass-Watch identity (logo/name).
  • Do not use the Seagrass-Watch identity (logo/name) or any other confusingly similar marks on any apparel, product, toy, or any other merchandise.
  • Seagrass-Watch HQ can authorise you to use the Seagrass-Watch logo, subject to your agreement to adhere to the terms and conditions set out in the Conditions of Use. Please contact Seagrass-Watch for a copy of the logo agreement

In short, No.

Seagrass-Watch HQ does not approve participants using “Seagrass-Watch” in their title or group name, e.g. “Seagrass-Watch Cairns”.

Use of Seagrass-Watch within a title mistakenly implies that the group is a subsidiary/branch of Seagrass-Watch HQ/Seagrass-Watch Global Seagrass Observing Network, that the group speaks on behalf of Seagrass-Watch HQ/ Seagrass-Watch Global Seagrass Observing Network, and that Seagrass-Watch HQ/Seagrass-Watch Global Seagrass Observing Network endorses all activities of the group (including activism).

Using “Seagrass-Watch” in a group’s title is also misleading to participants and other stakeholders.

  • You can make a reference to Seagrass-Watch (online and offline) to describe your presence within the Seagrass-Watch program and your use of our products and services. Your reference must be truthful, and cannot suggest that you are affiliated with, sponsored, or endorsed by Seagrass-Watch or Seagrass-Watch HQ.
  • Textual references to the Seagrass-Watch identity (logo/name) should never be hyperlinked to anything but the Seagrass-Watch website,
  • Never combine your name with the Seagrass-Watch identity (logo/name).
  • When referring to Seagrass-Watch as the method by which you are organising an event, you must make it clear that you, and not Seagrass-Watch, are responsible for the event.
  • Do not copy our look and feel, as this could create user confusion.
  • Do not use the word Seagrass-Watch to refer to services other than Seagrass-Watch/HQ.
  • We recommend and encourage groups to create their own name as this gives local ownership and promotes recognition of the group’s identity, for example: Team Seagrass (Singapore), Great Sandy Strait Flora and Fauna Watch (Great Sandy Strait, QLD), Broome Community Seagrass Monitoring Project (Broome, WA), TSV – Townsville Seagrass Volunteers (Townsville, QLD), Whitsunday Seagrass Volunteers (QLD, Australia)

Training Questions

Seagrass-Watch HQ has a tiered level of certification for training participants 18 years of age and over (for interested participants 17 yrs and under please see Education). There are requirements before you can attend a course, and a level of achievement to be completed to pass a training course.

  • Level 1 (basic) requirements = participated in at least one field monitoring event prior to attending
  • Level 2 (intermediate or advanced) requirements = completion of level 1 and must complete 3 monitoring events/periods over a 12 month period

For more information on Seagrass-Watch Training

Training starts at approximately AUS$8000-11000 (excluding airfares, venue hire and catering), maximum of 15 participants.  More information

Monitoring Questions

  • Register as a participant of the Global Monitoring Network: Click Here
  • Please contact Seagrass-Watch , for advice and site/location integration into the Global Program.

Seagrass-Watch site codes are unique. It is important to request a site code from Seagrass-Watch HQ before establishing a new site. This will ensure your data can be integrated into the program and to prevent confusion in future.

In Australia, on-ground monitoring in some locations may require permits (e.g., Marine Parks). You will need to check with local authorities (Parks and Wildlife) and Seagrass-Watch HQ before conducting any monitoring program in marine waters.

For International locations, it is recommended that you check with local authorities prior to setting up monitoring sites

Seagrass-Watch recommends you conduct a Risk Assessment before any field monitoring and adhere to the following:

  • Have a Contact Person (arrange to have a reliable contact person to raise the alert if you and the team are not back at a specified or reasonable time).
  • Assess the risks before monitoring – check weather, tides, time of day, etc.
  • Use your instincts – if you do not feel safe then abandon sampling.
  • Do not put yourself or others at risk.
    Wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
  • Be sun-smart.
  • Adult supervision is required if children (17 yrs and under) are involved.
  • Be aware of dangerous marine animals.
  • Have a first aid kit on site or nearby.
  • Take a mobile phone or marine radio

Download the Seagrass-Watch risk assessment form

For more detailed information please contact Seagrass-Watch HQ

Seagrass-Watch has a number of standardised monitoring strategies, and these are outlined in the full monitoring manual.

Nevertheless, situations do arise and we have worked with participants to develop a monitoring strategy which better suits the issue being addressed or the habitat and landscape of the seagrass meadows.

For example, in a region their seagrass meadows are in narrow bands (approximately 5-10m wide) along the banks of rivers and estuaries. Also, the meadows either never completely exposed or are very muddy. What we designed was a strategy where 33 quadrats are haphazardly scattered between two permanent marks (100m apart) on the bank. For meadows which are submerged, the observers use kayaks to move over the meadow so they can spread the sampling quadrats. Standard quadrat measures are taken within each quadrat. This approach was logistically possible for the volunteers to conduct (it was also novel so it accessed volunteers with kayak/canoeing interest) and still gave sufficient replication to minimize the variance.

This information is used to examine the level of bioturbation. When bioturbation is very high, the sediment is so disturbed that seagrass cannot take root. Bioturbation is recorded by the number of burrows (e.g., holes made by crabs, worms, yabbies or unidentified macrofauna). Bird feeding marks are common at some sites but we only record their presence, as counts can be highly variable and time consuming.

For analysis, we classify bioturbation using the abundance of Crab holes, Worm Holes, Yabby Holes, and Other holes. For this we need a number/type and we ask observer to estimate as best they can.

Please do not use > or < symbols.

Do I need to count every single one? No you don’t need to count every single one.

It was decided very early in the Seagrass-Watch program, after examining the faunal data and consulting with participants, that forams (and ascidians/sea squirts) only need to be recorded as present/absent. Early analysis found that abundances varied greatly between quadrats and it was time consuming to record counts in the field.

Please do not use > or < symbols.

Your field descriptions of surface sediment type are determined by visual and tactile inspection of (wet) samples and constituents (primary descriptors) differentiated according to the Udden – Wentworth grade scale: shell, rock and gravel (>2000µm); coarse sand (>500 µm); sand (>250 µm); fine sand (>63 µm); and mud (<63 µm). The primary descriptors are written down from left to right in decreasing order of abundance: e.g. Mud/Sand is mud with sand, where mud is determined as the dominant constituent (by volume). For more information, download Understanding Sediment (871kb pdf)

To convert the qualitative visual/tactile field descriptions to quantitative values (percentage composition by volume), the field observations are first collapsed to pseudo-geological generic classifications involving the five descriptors mud, fine sand, sand, coarse sand and gravel. This is where we use your field description and assign it to a grain size. For example, “Shell Grit” is replaced with “coarse sand”, because grain size of shell grit is >500 µm but <2mm. Similarly, Shell = gravel because grain size of shell is >2mm, Rubble = gravel because grain size of rubble is >2mm. By doing this, we can reduce the many unique description categories from several thousand observations in the Seagrass-Watch database to fewer categories.

Of these, nine descriptions comprised 88% of all data. These are:

  • sand/mud
  • mud/sand
  • sand
  • fine sand
  • mud
  • sand/gravel
  • fine sand/mud
  • mud/fine sand
  • sand/mud/gravel

The components of each category are then scored from 3 to 1 based on their order of dominance. The fourth or higher components of a description were considered insignificant and scored 0. From the scored values, the percent composition of each grain size is calculated. This scoring scheme is loosely based on Folk’s classification, however the compositions are more conservative. For example, if the visual/tactile estimation from Seagrass-Watch was mud/sand, Folk’s classification sM would result in compositions of 10-50% sand, 50-90% mud, whereas the classification here is 60% mud, 40% sand.

Once you have monitored your Seagrass-Watch site, the following data should be submitted to Seagrass-Watch HQ:

  • original datasheets (we recommend you make a copy for yourself before posting)
  • CD (or dropbox) containing:
    • completed MS Excel spread sheet relevant to your bio region
    • quadrat photos (highest quality possible for camera)
    • site & people photos (highest quality possible for camera)
  • voucher press specimens if collected

Data can be posted via regular mail to :

Seagrass-Watch HQ
QLD 4879

Once all the information, Original field datasheets, original quadrat photos and excel spreadsheets have been received, your data will be placed in a queue to be entered into the main database.

For data submission checklist: Click Here

Data Questions

  1. When data arrives at Seagrass-Watch HQ, it is first checked for compliancy (e.g., original datasheets, photos, spreadsheet).
  2. A data submission note/email is then sent to the person who submitted the data.
  3. Compliant data is then entered into the Seagrass-Watch secure database. Field data is checked following QAQC protocols (e.g., against photographs).
  4. Data feedback is then sent out to the person who submitted the data, if any anomalies (e.g., unclear data, compositions, ID’s, etc) are found.
  5. Data are quarantined until anomalies are clarified.
  6. When data anomalies have been corrected/clarified, the original datasheets are then filed (secure) and data is available for analysis (e.g., ad hoc or every 2 years).

When data is submitted to Seagrass-Watch HQ it is first checked for compliancy:

  • legible original datasheets,
  • good quality quadrat photographs (high resolution),
  • voucher specimens (if required) and
  • completed MS Excel spreadsheet.

A field in the Master database identifies data as either passed, quarantined or non-compliant.

Non-compliant data is used for large-scale summary reporting only if the data quality is deemed acceptable, i.e. if it was collected by a Level 1 trained participant, that the scans/copies of datasheets are OK (only if originals are not available), and/or that the quadrat images were acceptable to complete QAQC, etc. If data quality is unacceptable, the data is either not entered into the Master database or remains quarantined (excluded from analysis & reporting).

If predominantly non-compliant data is used for detailed analysis and reporting at a site or location/region, it is marked on the outputs with a notice of non-compliancy (e.g., site graphs). If officially requested data is non-compliant, a note in the metadata advises of non-compliancy and includes a caveat to “use with caution”.

Ownership of data within the Seagrass-Watch program is determined by mutual agreement based on who collected the raw data, whether the data undergoes a quality assessment as part of Seagrass-Watch QAQC protocols and the source of funds that support the monitoring. Raw Data (original field data collected by the Principal (individual or institution)) submitted to Seagrass-Watch HQ is done so under the condition that Seagrass-Watch HQ can conduct a data quality assessment as part of the Seagrass-Watch program’s QAQC protocols and that the Validated Data is available for condition and trend reporting.

Ownership (intellectual property rights) of the Raw Data lies with the Principal (data collector). Seagrass-Watch is custodian of the Raw Data

Ownership (intellectual property rights) of the Validated Data is shared between the Principal and Seagrass-Watch Ltd.

More information: Click Here

Seagrass-Watch has an accepted Quality  Assurance-Quality Control protocols in place to ensure that the program is producing data of high quality, and that time and resources are not wasted. The program implements QAQC during all three phases of monitoring:

Pre – monitoring

  • Representative site selection – ensures measurements actually represent the whole population at the time an observation was made.
  • Sites permanently marked – ensures data can be compared between periods of time

Field – monitoring

  • At least 1 participant at each monitoring event must have passed a Seagrass-Watch training course or has a degree (or similar) in environmental/marine science and is able to demonstrate competency of SGW methods & protocols.
  • Methods simple & easy to use – ensures completeness
  • Scientific training – ensures precision among repeated measurements and that measures close to a true or standardised value
  • Calibration sheets – ensures
      • precision among repeated measurements,
      • measures close to a true or standardised value,
      • consistency between observers, and
      • data is comparable between sample locations or periods of time

Post – monitoring

  • Photographic records (100% quadrats) – ensures measures are accurate
  • Voucher specimens – ensures species identifications are accurate
  • Data feedback – ensures monitors (observers) are aware of any errors and provides an opportunity to clarify or correct data. Highlights if additional/refresher training is required.

In 2004, the Seagrass-Watch program was independently evaluated by statisticians from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (View Report). Many of the sites monitored achieve <20% minimum detectable difference, with 80% power. In 2005 Seagrass-Watch also passed the QAQC requirements for inclusion into the Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Protection Plan – Marine Monitoring Program.

Ad-hoc comparisons conducted to test if a difference exists between experienced professional scientists and trained community volunteers (amateur scientists), have found no significant difference at the 0.05 level at any of the locations or seagrass communities tested.

Data collected as part of the Seagrass-Watch program and archived at Seagrass-Watch HQ, can be requested. There is a charge for every data request; the baseline amount is $345.45 (including GST) per site.

Data requests are submitted via the official request form (download). Requests are considered per site within a region. Persons requesting data are also required to sign a Conditions of Use agreement, before any data will be released to them.

PLEASE NOTE: It is strictly forbidden to resell data files supplied, or to use them otherwise than stated in the agreement. In particular, they may not be used for:

  • commercial services
  • any production that contravenes national or international law.

Data requests are normally processed within 10 working days of receiving permission of the data principals.