Daily Archives: December 18, 2008

Biologist warns of extinction

SEEMA SHARMA – WHYALLA NEWS

Proposed developments at Point Lowly will adversely affect cuttlefish and high salinity levels caused by the desalination plants could lead to their extinction, warned a marine biologist.Associate professor Bronwyn Gillanders gave an extensive insight on cuttlefish, its breeding habits, the ecosystem and the possible impact of proposed developments at Point Lowly.

She said while more studies needed to be done on salinity, the outcome of all the research done so far indicates that a unique species may go extinct.

While talking at the community information night she said a large volume of highly concentrated brine will be put back into the ocean from the desalination plant.

She said the area will have elevated salt concentration and contaminants, higher temperature and turbidity levels and decreased oxygen levels.

Ms Gillanders said all this could impact the mating behaviours of the cuttlefish.

She said Upper Spencer Gulf already has a hypersaline environment, strong tidal currents and its potential to flush and mix with Upper Spencer Gulf waters and dodge tides are some of the major issues one has to keep in mind while talking about the sustainability of cuttlefish.

“After being nearly fished out 10 years ago, a moratorium has allowed stocks to recover – but the cuttlefish faces an uncertain future as it breeds only once in its one to two year lifetime, so any changes in its environment could be fatal,” Ms Gillanders said.

“If they don’t breed in that first year, the population will reduce quite dramatically.

“If the proposed port does not have an impact on the species the desalination plant will.

“Briney water from the plant pumped into the gulf could push salinity levels well past its current level of about 40 parts per thousand.

“At 50 parts per thousand there’s mortality.

“The export facility is planned for the area where there is a peak abundance of cuttlefish and eggs.”

She said the risk is too high and the potential of not getting it right could lead to a unique species going extinct.

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