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.

Aquarius Barrier Installed at Ellen Cove, Middleton Beach in Albany

The Aquarius Barrier was successfully installed at Ellen Cove in Albany. The installation process was generally smooth and well planned; the only hurdles we encountered were environmental factors such as a shark attack on a pygmy whale and poor weather conditions. After successfully tendering for the contract in December last year, we managed to complete the installation 3 weeks ahead of our anticipated schedule. 

The installation team began with the blocks, chains and anchors last Monday and after installing all the permanent infrastructure we had to finish off the process by connecting the barrier to the ground chains. The Aquarius Barrier is delivered pre-assembled to site which significantly reduces the amount of time spent assembling on the beach and minimises the disruption to the local community. The last part of the installation, connecting the barrier to the ground chain, turned out to be the most difficult part of the process as we had to wait for a period of good weather so that the installation dive team could safely work in the swell. 

We produced a short video that outlines the installation process:

Global Marine Enclosures Eco-Friendly Shark Barrier Installation Delayed by Shark Attack

Global Marine Enclosures shark attack on pygmy whale during installation.

The installation of our first Aquarius Barrier at Middleton Beach in Albany was delayed over the weekend due to a shark attack on a pygmy whale just metres from shore. 

The installation process was going smoothly as all concrete blocks, chains and anchors had been installed in their correct position along the seabed and the barrier was laid out on the beach ready for towing. The on duty surf lifesaving crew were on high alert as there was a report of shark attacking an animal a few kilometres down the beach. As the barrier was about to be towed out, the shark returned to attack a small pygmy whale right in front of the surf club where the barrier was to be installed. We were forced to suspend our installation for the day due to the shark risk. 

The attack was a timely reminder of the shark risk in the area and we are glad to be able to provide the local Albany community with an enclosed swimming area to swim with peace-of-mind. 

See the local media surrounding the shark attack here >>

shark attack pygmy whale 2.jpg

Global Marine Enclosures' eco-friendly shark barrier named as part of Mike Baird's $16m shark management strategy

Global Marine Enclosures Aquarius Barrier at Lennox Head in New South Wales

The Aquarius Barrier, the new eco-friendly shark barrier technology developed by Global Marine Enclosures, was selected for trial at Lennox Head in northern New South Wales as part of Mike Baird's $16m Shark Management Strategy managed by the Department of Primary Industries. 

Global Marine Enclosures was awarded the contract for a 650m eco-friendly shark barrier at Seven Mile Beach in Lennox Head following a competitive tender process. The Aquarius Barrier is an eco-friendly swimming enclosure that provides a secure swimming area and doesn't trap or kill marine species. 

The New South Wales shark management strategy is focussed on trialling environmentally friendly alternatives to the net meshing program that has been running in NSW for over five decades. 'Eco-barriers' were identified as a potentially viable alternative but it was noted that as beach conditions are very different in New South Wales, it would be a good idea to test the technology at high energy wave beach locations. 

We are very excited by the possibility of trialling the Aquarius Barrier seeing how our technology responds to the high energy beach environment. We are very confident of it's ability to perform well in the challenging conditions. We look forward to working with the New South Wales DPI and the local Lennox Head community to make the Aquarius Barrier trial a successful project for all involved. 

See the ABC news article of the barrier announcements here >>

Global Marine Enclosures Awarded Tender for Eco-Friendly Shark Barrier at Middleton Beach, Albany

On Wednesday December 17, the City of Albany awarded the tender contract for the supply and installation of a swimming enclosure to Global Marine Enclosures. The successful tender was for a 310m eco-friendly shark barrier that will span from the rocks on Ellen Cove to the beach in front of the Surf Club.

The tender was established following a funding allocation from the WA State Government as the Western Australian shark management strategy, led by Colin Barnett, shifts from the shark culling trials towards protective swimming enclosures.  

The contract is on a 3 year trial basis which will allow the City of Albany an opportunity to assess whether it is an asset that benefits the local community. 

We are very excited about the announcement and aim to provide the highest level of service to the City of Albany and the Albany community not only for the installation of the barrier but for the entire lifespan of the barrier.

Read more here in the local Western Australian newspaper >>