On the 15th March our Aquarius Barrier at Middleton Beach Albany was subject to near extreme storm conditions combined with an unprecedented influx of seagrass. The combination of these events led to a problem in the surf zone near the beach, where the seagrass does not have room to pass through due to the shallow depth, and where the ocean forces are most focussed. There was an enormous mass of seagrass that accumulated on the barrier and eventually broke through, causing a large tear and extended damage in a section.
The maintenance dive team immediately reduced the flotation on the barrier and stabilised with mooring ropes as we prepared for a replacement of the section. The team made significant engineering improvements to the barrier and particularly to the vertical strength that is critical for dealing with seagrass accumulation.
In all, this is seen as a very positive experience in the trial of the Aquarius Barrier technology as it has allowed us to make the necessary improvements to account for all environmental variables. We expect all future Aquarius Barriers will feature these design improvements, including the Aquarius Barrier planned for Lennox Head.