26 September 2023

Sand pumping away from birds’ paradise

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The Department of Transport (DoT) has adopted a flexible work program to ensure annual sand bypassing at Dawesville doesn’t disrupt a colony of endangered Australian fairy terns nesting at Pyramids Beach.

Announcing the program, DoT said the sand-bypassing project involved between 85,000 and 120,000 cubic metres of sand excavated from Pyramids Beach and pumped north of the entrance to the Dawesville Cut via pipes on the seabed.

It said DoT planning gave special consideration to the large colony of Australian fairy terns – a species protected under State and Commonwealth legislation – that nest on the beach.

Minister for Transport, Rita Saffioti said as a result, the bypassing works would start at the southern extent of the planned excavation area, away from the fenced nesting area, to allow the colony to finish nesting and leave.

“Drones will again be used this year to monitor the nests, especially in the early stages of the project, and beachgoers are asked to assist by observing the directional signage in place and abiding by the restrictions until the completion of work in June,” Ms Saffioti said.

“We have worked closely with the City of Mandurah and Murdoch University to set the program of work as the colony is one of the largest observed in the State in more than 10 years and previously included the oldest known fairy tern in the world,” she said.

Ms Saffioti said monitoring of the colony would continue as works progressed north to ensure the birds were not impacted.

She said the $1 million project would ensure the entrance channel remained navigable for skippers, while the beaches located north of Dawesville received the supply of sand they required to limit erosion in winter.

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