The Ramsar listed wetlands of the Peel-Yalgorup system are highly varied and, in some respects, this is what makes them so special. The fact that so many different wetland types are found clustered together in a relatively small geographic area around Mandurah is quite unusual. A good example of this variability is discovered when you look closely at the water itself. Some wetlands, such as Lakes McLarty and Mealup in the Birchmont area to the east of the Harvey Estuary, are essentially freshwater systems. While not far away on the west side of the same estuary there is a chain of wetlands some of which have water that is naturally four or five times saltier than seawater. Referred to as “hypersaline” systems, their water chemistry gives rise to a very different wetland ecology compared to their freshwater cousins not far to the east.
With funding support from the Australian Government’s NLP2 program, PHCC’s Rick James (pictured) and Program Manager Science & Waterways, Steve Fisher, recently conducted water quality assessments with the aim of better defining the differences in water chemistry between the various lakes. This will be an ongoing program over the next three to four years and will yield important information that will assist with management decisions over time.