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Latest AMSN News - the Australian Mangrove & Saltmarsh Network

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From JCU media:

Thirsty mangroves caused unprecedented dieback - Tues 14 March 2017

A James Cook University scientist has discovered why there was an unprecedented dieback of mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria in early 2016 – the plants died of thirst. 

Dr Norman Duke, leader of JCU’s Mangrove Research hub, headed an investigation into the massive mangrove dieback. The findings were published in the Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research.

The scientists used aerial observations and satellite mapping data of the area dating back to 1972, combined with weather and climate records.

Dieback catchments
Dieback of mangroves varied with catchments across the impacted southern Gulf shoreline from 3-25% of mangrove cover
Dr Duke said they found three factors came together to produce the unprecedented dieback of 7400 hectares of mangroves, which stretched for 1000 kilometres along the Gulf coast.

“From 2011 the coastline had experienced below-average rainfalls, and the 2015/16 drought was particularly severe. Secondly the temperatures in the area were at record levels and thirdly some mangroves were left high and dry as the sea level dropped about 20cm during a particularly strong El Nino.”

Dr Duke says this was enough to produce what scientists regard as the largest recorded incident of its kind, and the worst instance of likely climate-related dieback of mangroves ever reported. 

“Essentially, they died of thirst,” he said. 

Dr Duke said scientists now know that mangroves, like coral reefs, are vulnerable to changes in climate and extreme weather events.

He said the mangroves of Australia’s Gulf region have experienced relatively little anthropogenic impact and are considered the least altered mangrove ecosystems in the world.

“So the relative dominance of climate influences in this region is of critical interest to world observers of environmental responses to climate change.”

Dr Duke said the area is sparsely populated, with passing fisherman and scientists conducting unrelated work the first to notice the dieback.

“It took 4-5 months to come to the attention of mangrove tidal wetland specialists and managers. Our response to this event further involves training and equipping Indigenous rangers and local community volunteers to build local partnerships for rigorous and repeated shoreline assessments.”

“We cannot afford to be caught out like this again!” said Dr Duke. “The Gulf dieback has been a wakeup call for action on shoreline monitoring. We urgently need a national shoreline monitoring program commensurate with our global standing. We have the specialists, we have the resources, and we know there is interest and concern amongst the Australian public.”

To progress this further, Australia’s top specialists and managers will review the situation at a dedicated workshop during next week’s Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network annual conference in Hobart, hosted by the University of Tasmania and CSIRO.

“The aim of Australia’s specialist network is to apply intelligent, innovative and considered responses, as fully expected by the public, to improve and disseminate informed understandings of the changes taking place in high value natural resources such as Australia’s coastal tidal wetland habitats,” Dr Duke said.  


Dr Norm Duke


M: 0419 673 366


The Conversation 2017

Duke, N. C. 2017. Climate calamity along Australia's gulf coast. Landscape Architecture Australia 153: 66-71.

Duke, N. C., J. M. Kovacs, A. D. Griffiths, L. Preece, D. J. E. Hill, P. v. Oosterzee, J. Mackenzie, H. S. Morning and D. Burrows. 2017. Large-scale dieback of mangroves in Australia's Gulf of Carpentaria: a severe ecosystem response, coincidental with an unusually extreme weather event. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 68: online pre-release.

Hope, P., G. Wang, E.-P. Lim, H. H. Hendon and J. M. Arblaster. 2016. What caused the record-breaking heat across Australia in October 2015? Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 97(12): 1-5.

From AMSN 2017 Secretariat

In case you haven’t seen it, registrations are open for the AMSN conference in Hobart from 21-24th March 2017. This is the perfect opportunity to visit Tassie at a great time of the year. Stay for the weekend, this could be your end-of-year present to yourself! Please register by December 17th.

Coastal frontiers: saltmarsh and mangroves
CSIRO, Castray Esplanade, Hobart.
CSIRO and the University of Tasmania are proud to host the 3rd Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network Conference (AMSN).

The conference brings together researchers, industry, community and environmental consultants to discuss the latest science and management for saltmarsh and mangrove ecosystems.

The conference involves two days of presentation with the following broad themes:
Day 1 (21 March): The first line of defence in global change – saltmarshes and mangroves
Day 2 (22 March): Working with nature: science and community management of our coastal wetlands for healthy waterways
Plus visit the fabulous saltmarshes of Bruny Island and Barilla Bay in southern Tasmania.
Abstract Submission
We invite you to submit an abstract for an oral presentation (15 mins) or poster.

Submissions opened on Monday the 10th of October 2016.

AMSN 2017 Abstract (DOCX, 1MB)

All abstracts must be emailed to <> by 17 December 2016.

Check out our website:

We have also organised some good accommodation deals:
If you quote the relevant code then discounts will apply, subject to availability.

Lenna - - code AMSN
The Old Woolstore - - code AMSN
Wrest Point - - code - BB# 900285

Take some time this week to put this in your calendar for next week, and please REGISTER on our website.
We look forward to welcoming you to Hobart.   It’s going to be great!

News feed from Dr Ian Cresswell


From JCU media:

Indigenous rangers track huge mangrove dieback  -  14 November 2016

Indigenous rangers are working to evaluate the extent of the massive and mysterious mangrove dieback in the Gulf of Carpentaria.


The dieback, involving more than 7,400 hectares of mangroves stretching 1,000 km west of the Gulf town of Karumba, was discovered a year ago, with scientists describing it as “unprecedented”.

MangroveWatch Eastern Gulf 

The Queensland-based Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, with the help of TropWATER at James Cook University, is now training 19 rangers to monitor the situation for the eastern side.


The training began on November 12 for Indigenous ranger teams based in both Normanton and Burketown. 


The program is being lead by TropWATER scientist, Dr Norm Duke.


“TropWATER is giving its full support towards having well-advised, and science-trained local indigenous rangers across the north of Australia. The rangers are very keen to improve their recording and dissemination of information so the data they collect is relevant to environmental managers in Government, as well as for science researchers,” he said.


Dr Duke said the implications of the dieback are likely to be far reaching.


“Locals are justified in their concern for possible impacts on fisheries, coastal productivity, as well as to shoreline stability and more. Losses of shoreline mangroves exposes those shorelines to severe storms and waves that could erode large sections of coastline.”


This work has been undertaken and funded at the initiative of the CLCAC as Traditional Owners are extremely concerned about this phenomenon.  Through this training, CLCAC Rangers will gain to the skills and knowledge to continue monitoring and evaluating mangrove shorelines across the southern Queensland Gulf. 

Normanton Senior Head Ranger Paul Richardson is keen to see further investigation into this occurrence and opportunities for Indigenous rangers to undertake monitoring. 

 S-VAM Norman River estuary

“Traditional Owners are concerned about the recent dieback event and the potential widespread environmental impacts it may have.  For example, dieback has occurred across important habitat for migratory shorebirds” Mr Richardson said.


Dr Duke said the methods used in MangroveWatch monitoring are readily learnt and applied – requiring participants to simply know how to use a camera and a GPS device.


“This is a remote part of the country, so by using such methods in a standard way provides extremely valuable and useful data.”


Dr Duke said it will be a win-win outcome to support Indigenous rangers as guardians of Australia’s shoreline resources - especially in the more remote regions of the country.


Professor Norm Duke, James Cook University TropWATER Centre, Spokesman, Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network 

M: 0419 673 366    


Kate Bellchambers, Media Contact for the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation

M: 0427 112 106


Those wishing to visit dieback areas in Queensland are requested by Paul Richardson, Normanton Senior Head Ranger, and Terrence Taylor, Burketown-based Gangalidda Garawa Senior Head Ranger to contact them through the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation. 


For enquires related to Normanton contact the office on (07) 4745 1556 and to Burketown contact the office on (07) 4745 5132.  Both are concerned and worried about the likely consequences for marine habitats and animals in their areas. They are glad to have visitors but they want to fully integrate any findings and observations being made.  

From AMSN:

Field visit to film severe mangrove dieback around Karumba - 27 October 2016

Karumba diebackLast week Dr Duke had another chance to visit the mangrove dieback in the Gulf. This time the site was near Karumba in Queensland. The aim was to view and film this location and its current state. The extent of dieback seen was every bit as bad as displayed in the satellite mapping completed earlier. "During our one day visit, we used a boat, we walked the site, and we flew across and around it in a helicopter". "We saw a lot - and it's pretty bad!"

This site in Queensland is at the eastern extent of the dieback observed earlier in Northern Territory (see below) - some 900 km away!

After a year since the dieback occurred only limited recovery was observed, with a small number of sprouting Avicennia trees, and a lot of surviving undercanopy shrubbery consisting of Aegialitis and Batis. But, there is little recovery of the huge area of impacted Avicennia mangroves along this Karumba foreshore site.

Of note, some limited first field sampling has been conducted by Dr Damien Maher who visited this same area a month or so ago.

This recent visit was also opportunistic with support provided to The Ocean Agency by WWF who wanted validation, plus film of the dieback - and, to gather more information about this incident occurring in such a remote part of the country. 

The visitors were hosted by Paul Richardson, Normanton Senior Ranger with the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, as well as Terence Taylor, Burketown Senior Ranger. Both are very concerned and worried about the likely consequences for marine habitats and animals in their areas. And, they have asked that anyone visiting, to please contact them, so they can fully integrate their findings with those being collected by others.Paul wants us to take note!

Professor Norm Duke, James Cook University TropWATER Centre, Spokesman, Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network 

M: 0419 673 366         E:

From JCU Media: '

Large-scale mangrove dieback “unprecedented”  10 May 2016.

A James Cook University professor has warned that scientists are witnessing a large-scale dieback of mangroves in northern Australia. 

JCU’s Professor Norm Duke, spokesman for the Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network, said the scale and magnitude of the loss appears “unprecedented and deeply concerning”.

The extent of the damage came to light during an international wetland conference in Darwin.

A detailed scientific survey is yet to be done, but Professor Duke said photographs were produced of hundreds of hectares of mangroves dying in two locations on the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria - at Limmen Bight River, in the Northern Territory and Karumba in Queensland.

“Shoreline stability and fisheries values, amongst other benefits of mangrove vegetation, are under threat,” he said. 

Professor Duke said the phenomenon was especially alarming in light of the large-scale coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, as it also appeared to correlate with this year’s extreme warming and climate events in the region.

Preliminary observations were presented at this week's Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network Conference in Darwin, hosted by Charles Darwin University Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL).

Professor Duke said understanding of the scale of the mangrove loss is currently hampered by the critical lack of detailed shoreline monitoring, particularly in the remote areas of northern Australia.

Professor Duke and conference delegates called for mangrove monitoring efforts to be scaled-up as a matter of priority, so scientists and managers could establish baseline conditions of national shorelines, and quickly isolate and manage dieback events such as those seen in the Gulf. 

He said the next step in the investigation into the Gulf of Carpentaria dieback would be to conduct a mapping assessment, coupled with field investigations to determine the cause, and begin appropriate management measures.

*Mangroves and coastal wetlands hold 5 times more carbon than tropical forests.

*Australia is home to seven per cent of the world’s mangroves.

Professor Norm Duke, James Cook University TropWATER Centre, Spokesman, Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network 

M: 0419 673 366         E:

From JCU Media: 'Rare Mangrove Species discovered in Australia'  13 April 2016.

A local citizen scientist has made an amazing discovery in a busy Cairns’ suburb – finding a mangrove species that’s never been seen before in Australia.

Local explorer, Hidetoshi Kudo made the remarkable discovery of Haines Orange Mangrove (Bruguiera hainesii).

The species is largely unknown in the southern hemisphere, and has never been recorded in Australia. It is listed as rare and endangered on the IUCN Red List, and according to the records, less than 200 of the plants had previously been found on the planet.

Dr Norm Duke, an international mangrove scientist with TropWATER at James Cook University, said Mr Kudo found another 25 of the rare mangroves in Cairns.

“This is perhaps one of the most exciting recent day botanical discoveries for this country.”

“It also highlights our sad lack of basic knowledge about even something as obvious as such sizable tree species. There clearly remain unknown species out there – as this instance clearly demonstrates - right under our very noses,” Dr Duke said.

Dr Duke travelled to Cairns recently, at the request of local botanist, Wendy Cooper and Mr Kudo. Dr Duke’s mission was to confirm the discovery of the seemingly undescribed new mangrove species for Australia, plus to confirm also a 150 km southern extension of another related mangrove species. The two finds were totally unexpected, especially given their location in a busy suburb of Cairns city.

The mature plants were found in dense mangroves bordering Trinity Inlet amongst a populated area with urban bikeways, parklands, controlled drainage channels and cleared telegraph line access pathways.

Dr Duke said it had been thought that the mangroves of Trinity Inlet had been well surveyed and explored. “But, quite obviously, they weren’t! These findings confirm how our botanical knowledge is so blatantly incomplete when someone can stumble across two new species of trees in such a populated place. Who knows what other additional species might be out there?”

After his surveys, Dr Duke confirmed the new species as one previously found in numbers only in Singapore, the Malay Peninsula, and a couple of isolated locations in New Guinea. Dr Duke discovered another occurrence in the Solomons a few years back – but only as a single tree. 

The second species, Bruguiera cylindrica, with the extended distribution south, is special also, but it was known only from Cooktown north on Cape York Peninsula. Its discovery in the tidal wetlands of Cairns extend its range south notably by around 150 km.

The surveys also found the population size of the Haines Orange Mangrove might easily be the largest in the world. One tree has a stem diameter of more than 60 cm, which means the species has been there for between 100-200 years. 

“So these new plants are not new comers! They have simply been missed by all previous surveys!” Dr Duke said.

Dr Duke added that the credit for the new discoveries rests with a single citizen scientist, Mr Kudo. He used a local species guide, the ‘Australia’s Mangroves’ book, and later, the World Mangrove ID app, proving that such primary sources do their job.

“Clearly, it helped to have detailed information available making identification easier for those interested in identifying the species of mangroves present. And, more importantly, to appreciate when something was different and unrecorded! And, that is precisely what happened here. A triumph for citizen science!” Dr Duke said.

CAFNEC President Denis Walls added: “One of the significant outcomes of discoveries like these is their importance in drawing attention to the incredible biological diversity that exists in Far North Queensland, much of it still little known to science, and our obligation to protect it at all costs.”

There will be a press conference to explain the significance of these discoveries - and show examples of the species under permit - in front of Trinity Inlet at Mondo’s, Hilton Hotel on Thursday 14 April at 11am.

Mr Kudo will be giving a talk on his discoveries at the Cairns Botanic Gardens from 10 to 12 noon on Saturday 23 April.

For further information contact:

Denis Walls on 0434 279 552

Hidetoshi Kudo on 0402 343 610

Norm Duke on +614 19 673 366

From Ben Brown: 'The Largest So Far!'  2 Mar 2016.

"Meriadec found another Sonneratia alba that is even bigger than the previous one we found". Location: Amutu Besar Island, West Papua (2° 28' 7" S; 133° 33' 30" E). Stem diameter of 2.21 metres.

courtesy of Muljadi Tantra

The concessionaire at Bintuni Bay
Fortunately – he doesn’t log Sonneratia!


Gallery details2016 February 6 to 29 May.    ART EXHIBITION.

Maitland Regional Art Gallery, NSW

Gallery display open until 29 May. See the brilliant artworks by Botanical Illustrator Deirdre Bean!  This is a great opportunity for you to view the works of this talented illustrators' precise and botanically faithful sketches - as artworks of Australian mangrove plants. Her goal has been to illustrate all Australian mangrove plants. Check out how she is going! Please note also that she plans to attend our Darwin meeting in May.

Deirdre has contributed silhouette sketches of each mangrove plant to the World Mangrove iD app

2015 July 26th.    MANGROVE ACTION DAY!

Remember that Mangrove Action Day is on July 26This is an international day to celebrate mangroves and take action for mangroves..... please attached letter from MAP's Executive Director, Alfredo Quarto.

You can also find out how to join the Mangrove Action Day photo contest at

2015 November 12-13. Symposium "Turning the Tide on Mangrove Loss" - A focus on the state of mangroves in Asia.
MSG IUCN logoXiamen University, China. For more information...
This symposium seeks to consolidate global actions on mangrove management by bringing together a combination of stakeholders including: academic experts, conservation NGOs and policy makers and business representatives to share knowledge, experiences and identify options to improve and influence the development of effective mangrove conservation practices and policies in Asia and the world.
                             See you in Darwin!  For more information contact:  

             2016 AMSN Darwin 2015 AMSN members

2016 July 18-22. MMM4.  4th Mangrove Macrobenthos Meeting (MMM4) will be held in the USA along the Atlantic Coast of Florida, July 18-22, 2016. The venue will be Flagler College, in historic downtown St. Augustine.
MMM4 poster
See you there!


2015 July 10-19th. Art Exhibition. Vision Through Mangroves!  More Information & Schedule...
Narelle Renn ExhibitionNarelle Renn Exhibition 2

2015 June 2. The Guardian. 
Mangrove campaigners battle to save the 'roots of the sea'

Alfredo Quatro says we must defend mangrove forests – which protect our shorelines and diverse marine life – against man-made development.

Blue Planet 2

2015 May 27-29. The 2nd Blue Planet Symposium will be held in Cairns, Australia. The 2nd Symposium seeks to bring ocean observations to users by connecting leaders and representatives of various international organisations and networks, research scientists and postdoctoral and graduate students.
There will be a whole section devoted to international mangrove mapping using earth observation at this Symposium next week!
2015 May 28-29th. "Mangrove Monitoring in Pumicestone (Caloundra)

Caloundra MangroveWatch

2015 March 26-28th. "Meet your Mangroves" (Gladstone)