Both Shark Bay, Western Australia and Florida Bay, Miami, are home to subtropical marine environments with similar geological chemical and biological characteristics but, according to The University of Western Australia's leading marine ecologist, we're not taking advantage of science that could lead to better sustainable management of these bays.
The idea to focus on Shark Bay and Florida Bay arose from a UWA Institute for Advanced Studies workshop organised by UWA Oceans Institute Winthrop Professor Gary Kendrick and Florida International University's James Fourqurean in 2011.
The workshop led to a 23-paper Special Issue released as the latest edition of CSIRO's Marine and Freshwater Research titled ‘Science for the management of subtropical embayments: examples from Shark Bay and Florida Bay'. Their introductory paper highlights the valuable compilation of individual research outcomes from the past decade to address gaps in our scientific knowledge.
Professor Kendrick says Shark Bay offers an almost pristine template on which to understand changes in other subtropical areas.
"Shark Bay should be viewed as a semi-pristine ecosystem and a ‘pristine template' to management and restoration efforts in Florida Bay and other sub-tropical bays. Yet the Shark Bay system as a whole is poorly studied despite it having been granted World Heritage status more than 20 years ago."
The Special Issue also highlights excellent research that is poorly integrated and driven by interests and issues that have not necessarily led to the most effective management of the marine environment of either Shark Bay or Florida Bay.
"There is a need for a multidisciplinary international science program that focusses research on the ecological resilience of Shark Bay and Florida Bay compared with the impact of commercial and recreational fishing and other influences all under the increased stresses of population growth and climate change," Professor Kendrick said.