Pelican Lagoon Islet Pilot Vegetation Study
Pelican Lagoon is a semi-enclosed, shallow marine lagoon located at the western end of Eastern Cove, Nepean Bay, on the north-eastern coastline of Kangaroo Island (Figure 1). The waterbody of Pelican Lagoon comprises two large interconnected basins that range in depth from <1m to >9m (Ballantine-Swan 2009). Located at the northern tip of Pelican Lagoon is the urban centre of American River (population 227), Kangaroo Island’s third largest township (Ballantine-Swan 2009). The surrounding landscape consists mainly of rural agricultural land that was first settled in 1836 (Ballantine-Swan 2009). Land division first occurred in the 1870s, with pastoralists clearing land to graze sheep (Ballantine-Swan 2009).
Pelican Lagoon is one of South Australia’s oldest marine protected areas, being gazetted as the American River Aquatic Reserve in 1971, primarily to conserve habitat and nursery grounds for commercially important fish species such as King George whiting (Sallaginodes punctata) (Baker 2004; PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture 2011). The reserve was re-proclaimed in November 2007 to bring it in line with the Fisheries Management Act 2007 (PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture 2011). Pelican Lagoon’s conservation value was further acknowledged in 2012 when it was gazetted a Sanctuary Zone within the Encounter Marine Park (Figure 1).
Recently, Eco-Action Kangaroo Island, with the support of Friends of Dudley Peninsula Parks, have proposed a restoration project for the islets of Pelican Lagoon aimed at controlling weeds, increasing biodiversity and enhancing ecosystem resilience. The Pelican Lagoon catchment is also one of the focus areas of Natural Resources Kangaroo Island’s On-ground Works Program, which assists local landholders with the delivery of revegetation and weed management projects. Weed control efforts on private properties around Pelican Lagoon have been challenging, in part due to the presence of source populations of a number of weed species, including African Boxthorn, on the nearby islets. Any effective ecological restoration program within the Pelican Lagoon catchment must therefore include the Pelican Lagoon islets if lasting outcomes across the catchment are to be achieved. Knowledge gained from this vegetation survey, and from the proposed restoration works and associated weed control activities on the islets, will therefore be of direct benefit to natural resource management across the entire catchment.
Eco-Action Kangaroo Island; Friends of Dudley Peninsula Parks