Operation Crayweed: celebrate Christmas with an Underwater Christmas Tree

Have you heard of Operation Crayweed? It’s a conservation project run by UNSW and Sydney Institute of Marine Science to restore Sydney’s underwater forests.

Vast underwater forests have gone missing from the Sydney coastline, wiped out over 30 years ago when poorly treated sewage was pumped into the sea. Operation Crayweed aims to reforest 70km of Sydney coastline – and you can help. Watch this video to find out more about it:

Operation Crayweed from Shannon Ruddock on Vimeo.

Donate as little as $20 to the project’s crowd funding campaign, and you’ll be given a virtual underwater Christmas Crayweed Tree – a Welcome Pack which includes a tax deductible receipt, a Christmas card, a sticker and an Operation Crayweed Fact Sheet.

If you’re feeling even more generous, $500 will get you a small crayweed forest and $5000 an entire crayweed site, acknowledged on their website, and the chance to be a scientist for a day with the team of marine biologists running the project.

Operation Crayweed close up by John Turnbull

Seaweeds may not be the most glamorous of sea creatures, but they’re vitally important. Like trees on the land, seaweeds form vast underwater forests that provide critical food and habitat for hundreds of species, all while quietly capturing atmospheric carbon and producing precious oxygen.

‘Crayweed’ forms dense forests on shallow reefs all the way from Port Macquarie down to Tasmania. Not that long ago, crayweed also flourished along the Sydney coastline, but it disappeared completely during the 1980s – from Palm Beach all the way to Cronulla.

It is thought that this extinction was the result of previous poor sewage practice – poor treatment and release too close to the shore – thankfully this stopped in the 1990s. Since then Sydney water quality has improved dramatically BUT the crayweed forests have never returned.

Operation crayweed diver

Crayweed provides food and habitat to a huge diversity of fish and invertebrates, including economically important abalone and crayfish. Other species of seaweed do not play the same role in Sydney’s marine environment. Losing crayweed is bad news for our local marine biodiversity and for any of us who love our coastline, enjoy eating seafood and diving or fishing.

The aim of Operation Crayweed is to bring crayweed back to reefs where it once flourished, and with it the marine life whose survival depends on it.

Find out more about the project here.

Donate to the crowd funding campaign here.

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