Monthly Update: Aquarius Barrier Middleton Beach

The Aquarius Barrier had its third monthly service on the 8th July 2016. The barrier has performed exceptionally well in the winter season conditions. The barrier service included checking all struts, clips and barrier components across the entire length of the barrier.

During this service the red floats that identify the two craft access points were upgraded from painted red floats to permanent red material floats. We are also trialling a brand new material for the floats with an exciting feature - this will be announced shortly. 

The growth on the barrier continues to be monitored. Cleaning was originally scheduled for every three months but the dive team has noticed that the barrier growth is predominantly algal which is very lightweight and does not affect the performance of the barrier. It was noted that cleaning is not required in this time-frame, and may not be required at all.  

The Calm after the Storm - Aquarius Barrier at Middleton Beach

The second monthly service of the Aquarius Barrier was conducted before the long weekend and showed no damage or issues with the Aquarius Barrier, after two weeks of extreme winter weather on the South Coast. 

After further consultation with the community, the council, and the Albany Surf Life Saving Club, it was decided that we should introduce another SLSC access point and move the existing access point. There are now two access points marked with red floats, one at the back over near the rocks and the other in the surf zone near the beach. 

Wild Storms Lash Albany Coast - No Damage to Aquarius Barrier

The Aquarius Barrier technology was seriously tested during the wild storms that lashed the South Coast on Saturday the 21st May. Wild winds (100km/h gusts) and huge 6m swells battered the coastline for most of Saturday and again on Tuesday. The monitoring team went out after each storm and found no damage to the Aquarius Barrier.

The barrier has been re-engineered for Middleton Beach following the events in March. We are confident now that this event has proved the barrier's ability to withstand the most extreme storm conditions at Middleton Beach. There was widespread damage caused to homes, buildings, power lines and barriers around the South West and Metropolitan areas of WA, but the Aquarius Barrier got through unscathed.

Another shark barrier product at Coogee Beach in WA was significantly damaged in the storm, further proof that the Aquarius Barrier is now the strongest eco-friendly shark barrier in the world. 

The picture on the right is taken from the Albany Advertiser Facebook page showing the wild seas nearby at The Gap. 

Middleton Beach Update: New Aquarius Barrier Section Performing Well

The new section of the Aquarius Barrier at Middleton Beach, Albany, was completed on the 6th April. The reinstallation process was a lot smoother as we figured out new ways to improve the process. The new section was delivered in a single piece that meant even less disruption to the beach. 

We promised the Albany community a barrier that was better suited to the unique conditions at Middleton Beach. We upgraded the undamaged section and replaced an entire section in the damaged area, so that the barrier features a greater vertical strength across the entire length. We are very confident in the new design improvements and early results suggest that the barrier is performing very well in its environment. 

Our local monitoring report conducted by Paul from SUPLime indicated that the new design was doing very well: 

"The barrier seems to be in great condition and the new design is holding up well - the amount of people I witnessed throughout the day was also encouraging"

The barrier had testing swell and weather conditions as a storm passed through last Friday, but the upgraded design appears to have handled it well with no reported damage or issues. 

We will continue to provide regular updates here to inform the local Albany community of how the upgraded Aquarius Barrier is performing at Middleton Beach. 

Global Marine Enclosures' upgraded design of the Aquarius Barrier at Middleton Beach, Albany.
Small clusters of leafy seaweed on Global Marine Enclosures' upgraded Aquarius Barrier design.

Middleton Beach Damage: The Facts

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. 

Seagrass Images:

3 ft wall of seagrass accumulated on Middleton Beach following strong easterly storm. 
Seagrass accumulation near beach tangling and tearing barrier.
Underwater view of rolling seagrass against barrier in deep water.