Might mangroves measure metal contamination in the Georges River?

Mangrove researcher from UNSW working to determine if mangroves are an indicator of metal contamination in the Georges River

Through the Research Program, Georges Riverkeeper is currently co-supervising a University of Newcastle Honours student to investigate the uptake of metals in mangroves throughout the Georges River.

Unfortunately, metal contamination is one of the legacy pollution issues stemming from urbanisation and industrialisation in the catchment. Once in the river system, metals generally settle in sediments where the wind is weak and water movement is slow, such as in sheltered bays. Mangroves also favor these conditions and grow in the intertidal areas. Unlike some species, mangroves are quite tolerant of these contaminants which accumulate in their roots, trunks and leaves. This makes them a useful long term indicator of metal contamination, forming the basis of this research project. 

Recently, Georges Riverkeeper joined the researcher to collect mangrove leaf and sediment samples from six areas of the estuary between the mouth of Prospect Creek and Towra Point. Back in the lab, these samples will be analysed for heavy metal concentrations. The results from this project will help to tell us if mangroves are a long term indicator of metal contamination in the Georges River and elsewhere.

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