Journal of the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Series 4


Eutrophication, Algae, Peel Inlet (W.A.), Harvey River Estuary (W.A.), Western Australia

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The Peel-Harvey esturine system study began in 1976 because people living near Peel Inlet complained about the accumulation of water weeds and algae on the shores and the smell of hydrogen sulphide (rotton egg gas) that resulted from their decomposition. From 1974 efforts had been made to control this 'algal problem' by raking up the weed with tractors and carting it away. This 'cosmetic activity had little impact on the problem.

The immediate cause was obvious: a carpet of green algae covering about 20square kilometres of the bottom of Peel Inlet. From time to time this 'goat weed' floated to the surface and was driven ashore by the wind. There it collected in huge piles that decomposed to an evil-smelling, black sludge that fouled the previously clean beaches.

During the past ten years the exxtent of the problem has varied with the seasons and its nature has changed according to the different kinds of algae present. With more and better equipment the PeelInlet Management Authority has succesfully kept the shores clean near the inhabited areas, but the problem remains. Weed accumulations are as great as ever along the uninhabited south-eastern shores.