Skip to main content

Hervey Bay and Its Estuaries

Part of the Estuaries of the World book series (EOTW)

Abstract

Hervey Bay and its estuaries are located along the east coast of Australia just to the south of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The region has long been recognised as one of Australia’s most biodiverse marine environments and including the Great Sandy Strait in the south of the Bay, it is referred to as the Great Sandy Biosphere. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) included the area in its list of 580 designated biospheres located in 114 countries.

Although widely recognised for its exceptional biodiversity, little is known about the physical processes and climate characteristics that shape its natural marine environment. Only recently, the Bay has been classified as a large low inflow and predominantly hypersaline system. River runoff and discharge from its many estuaries is very small. It has almost been absent during the Australian Millennium Drought lasting the first decade of the twenty-first century. During other times, freshwater inflow is only significant following flooding as a result of tropical/subtropical depressions, which often is amplified during La Nina events. A positive freshwater balance leads to a net loss of water establishing hypersaline conditions. This appears to prevail throughout the year and is re-established shortly after storm events. Hydrodynamic modelling suggests that predominant southeasterly to easterly trade winds establish a cyclonic water renewal pathway, with Hervey Bay water exiting along the western shoreline. Hypersalinity and the characteristics of an inverse estuarine circulation are evident from observations and modelling.

This chapter reviews our understanding of the environmental processes that shape Hervey Bay and its estuaries in the context of its climate. Future changes in the regional freshwater balance indicate a continued trend toward drier and warmer conditions. It leads to an intensification of hypersaline and possible inverse circulation states of the Bay. Insight into the environmental forces shaping Hervey Bay, its estuaries, and a unique and biodiverse environment, informs continued sustainable natural resource management and policy development. It is anticipated that over the next few decades physical processes associated with climatic trends and variability are likely to impact more dramatically upon the natural environment of the region than direct human activities such as fishing, aquaculture, tourism and continued local population and urbanisation trends.

Keywords

  • Hervey Bay
  • Great Sandy Strait
  • UNESCO biosphere
  • Hypersalinity
  • Inverse circulation
  • Australia
  • Biodiversity
  • Climatic variability
  • Freshwater balance

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-7019-5_11
  • Chapter length: 17 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-94-007-7019-5
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   179.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9

References

  • Andutta FP, Ridd PV, Wolanski E (2011) Dynamics of hypersaline coastal waters in the Great Barrier Reef. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 94(4):299–305

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Benfer NP, King BA, Lemckert CJ (2007) Salinity observations in a subtropical estuarine system on the Gold Coast, Australia. In: The International Coastal Symposium (ICS). Gold Coast, pp 646–651

    Google Scholar 

  • Boyd R, Ruming K, Davies S, Payenberg T, Lang S (2004) Fraser Island and Hervey Bay – a classic modern sedimentary environment. In: Boult PJ, Johns DR, Lang SC (eds) Eastern Australian basins symposium II. Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia, Special Publication, Adelaide, South Australia, pp 511–521

    Google Scholar 

  • Boyd R, Ruming K, Goodwin I, Sandstrom M, Schröder-Adams C (2008) Highstand transport of coastal sand to the deep ocean: a case study from Fraser Island, southeast Australia. Geology 36(1):15–18

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • BOM and CSIRO (2007) Climate change in Australia. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra

    Google Scholar 

  • Cagnazzi DDB, Harrison PL, Ross GJB, Lynch P (2011) Abundance and site fidelity of Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins in the Great Sandy Strait, Queensland, Australia. Mar Mamm Sci 27(2):255–281

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Cai W, van Rensch P (2012) The 2011 southeast Queensland extreme summer rainfall: a confirmation of a negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation phase? Geophys Res Lett 39(8):L08702. doi:10.1029/2011gl050820

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Cai W, Shi G, Cowan T, Bi D, Ribbe J (2005) The response of the Southern Annular Mode, the East Australian Current, and the southern mid-latitude ocean circulation to global warming. Geophys Res Lett 32(23):L23706. doi:10.1029/2005gl024701

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Cai W, Cowan T, Thatcher M (2012) Rainfall reductions over Southern Hemisphere semi-arid regions: the role of subtropical dry zone expansion. Sci Rep 2:702

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Chaloupka M, Osmond M, Kaufman G (1999) Estimating seasonal abundance trends and survival probabilities of humpback whales in Hervey Bay (east coast Australia). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 184:291–301. doi:10.3354/meps184291

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Chronicle TFC (2012) Sewage process scrutiny. The Fraser Coast Chronicle, 10 February 2012

    Google Scholar 

  • Donald A, Meinke H, Power B, Maia AHN, Wheeler MC, White N, Stone RC, Ribbe J (2006) Near-global impact of the Madden-Julian Oscillation on rainfall. Geophys Res Lett 33(9):L09704. doi:10.1029/2005gl025155

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Durack PJ, Wijffels SE, Matear RJ (2012) Ocean salinities reveal strong global water cycle intensification during 1950 to 2000. Science 336(6080):455–458. doi:10.1126/science.1212222

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Franklin T, Franklin W, Brooks L, Harrison P, Baverstock P, Clapham P (2011) Seasonal changes in pod characteristics of eastern Australian humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), Hervey Bay 1992–2005. Mar Mamm Sci 27(3):E134–E152

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Geoscience Australia (2009) Australian bathymetry and topography grid. Geoscience Australia, Canberra

    Google Scholar 

  • Gillanders BM, Elsdon TS, Halliday IA, Jenkins GP, Robins JB, Valesini FJ (2011) Potential effects of climate change on Australian estuaries and fish utilising estuaries: a review. Mar Freshw Res 62(9):1115–1131

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Gräwe U (2009) Hervey Bay – insights from numerical modelling into the hydrodynamics of an Australian subtropical Bay. Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg

    Google Scholar 

  • Gräwe U, Wolff JO, Ribbe J (2009) Mixing, hypersalinity and gradients in Hervey Bay, Australia. Ocean Dyn 59(5):643–658

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Gräwe U, Wolff JO, Ribbe J (2010) Impact of climate variability on an east Australian bay. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 86(2):247–257

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Gupta AS, McNeil B (2012) Variability and change in the ocean. In: Henderson-Sellers A, McGuffie K (eds) The future of the world’s climate. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 141–165

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Haynes D, Muller J, Carter S (2000) Pesticide and herbicide residues in sediments and seagrasses from the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area and Queensland coast. Mar Pollut Bull 41(7–12):279–287. doi:10.1016/s0025-326x(00)00097-7

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hazel J, Gyuris E (2006) Vessel-related mortality of sea turtles in Queensland, Australia. Wildl Res 33(2):149–154. doi:10.1071/wr04097

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hoegh-Guldberg O (1999) Climate change, coral bleaching and the future of the world’s coral reefs. Mar Freshw Res 50(8):839–866. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF99078

  • Holloway PE, Symonds G, Nunes VR (1992) Observations of circulation and exchange processes in Jervis Bay, New South Wales. Mar Freshw Res 43(6):1487–1515

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Largier J (2010) Low-inflow estuaries: hypersaline, inverse and thermal scenarios. In: Valle-Levinson A (ed) Contemporary issues in estuarine physics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 326

    Google Scholar 

  • Lavery B, Joung G, Nicholls N (1997) An extended high-quality historical rainfall dataset for Australia. Aust Meteorol Mag 46:27–38

    Google Scholar 

  • Lavin MF, Godinez VM, Alvarez LG (1998) Inverse-estuarine features of the upper Gulf of California. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 47(6):769–795. doi:10.1006/ecss.1998.0387

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lee RS, Black KP, Bosserel C, Greer D (2012) Present and future prolonged drought impacts on a larget temperate embayment: Port Phillip Bay, Australia. Ocean Dyn 62(6):907–922

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lennon GW, Bowers DG, Nunes RA, Scott BD, Ali M, Boylet J, Wenju C, Herzfeld M, Johannsson G, Nield S, Petrusevics P, Stephenson P, Suskin AA, Wijffels SEA (1987) Gravity Currents and the release of salt from an inverse estuary. Nature 327:695–697

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lima FP, Wethey DS (2012) Three decades of high-resolution coastal sea surface temperatures reveal more than warming. Nat Commun 3:704. http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v3/n2/suppinfo/ncomms1713_S1.html

  • Loneragan NR, Bunn SE (1999) River flows and estuarine ecosystems: implications for coastal fisheries from a review and a case study of the Logan River, southeast Queensland. Aust J Ecol 24(4):431–440

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Luyten PJ, Jones JE, Proctor R, Tabor A, Tett P, Wild-Allen K (1999) COHERENS – a Coupled Hydrodynamical-Ecological Model for Regional and Shelf Seas: user documentation, Brussels

    Google Scholar 

  • Marsh H, De’Ath G, Gribble N, Lane B (2005) Historical marine population estimates: triggers or targets for conservation? The dugong case study. Ecol Appl 15(2):481–492. doi:10.1890/04-0673

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • McMahon K, Nash SB, Eaglesham G, Muller JF, Duke NC, Winderlich S (2005) Herbicide contamination and the potential impact to seagrass meadows in Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. Mar Pollut Bull 51(1–4):325–334. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2004.10.045

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Meynecke J-O, Lee SY (2011) Climate-coastal fisheries relationships and their spatial variation in Queensland, Australia. Fish Res 110(2):365–376. doi:10.1016/j.fishres.2011.05.004

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Meynecke J-O, Lee SY, Duke NC, Warnken J (2006) Effect of rainfall as a component of climate change on estuarine fish production in Queensland, Australia. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 69:491–504

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Middleton JH, Coutis P, Griffin DA, Macks A, McTaggart A, Merrifield MA, Nippard GJ (1994) Circulation and water mass characteristics of the southern Great Barrier Reef. Mar Freshw Res 45(1):1–18

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Murphy BF, Ribbe J (2004) Variability of southeastern Queensland rainfall and climate indices. Int J Climatol 24(6):703–721. doi:10.1002/joc.1018

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Murphy BF, Timbal B (2008) A review of recent climate variability and climate change in southeastern Australia. Int J Climatol 28(7):859–879. doi:10.1002/joc.1627

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Nahas EL, Pattiaratchi CB, Ivey GN (2005) Processes controlling the position of frontal systems in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 65(3):463–474

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Nunes Vaz RA, Lennon GW, Bowers DG (1990) Physical behaviour of a large, negative or inverse estuary. Cont Shelf Res 10(3):277–304. doi:10.1016/0278-4343(90)90023-f

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Pattiaratchi C, Hollings B, Woo M, Welhena T (2011) Dense shelf water formation along the south-west Australian inner shelf. Geophys Res Lett 38(10):L10609. doi:10.1029/2011gl046816

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Petrusevics PM (1993) SST fronts in inverse estuaries, South Australia – indicators of reduced gulf-shelf exchange. Aust J Mar Freshw Res 44:305–323

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Petrusevics P, Bye JAT, Fahlbusch V, Hammat J, Tippins DR, van Wijk E (2009) High salinity winter outflow from a mega inverse-estuary—the Great Australian Bight. Cont Shelf Res 29(2):371–380. doi:10.1016/j.csr.2008.10.003

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Poloczanska ES, Limpus CJ, Hays GC (2009) Vulnerability of marine turtles to climate change. In: Sims DW (ed) Advances in marine biology. Academic, New York, pp 151–211

    Google Scholar 

  • Power S, Tseitkin F, Mehta V, Lavery B, Torok S, Holbrook N (1999) Decadal climate variability in Australia during the twentieth century. Int J Climatol 19:169–184

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Preen A, Marsh H (1995) Response of dugongs to large-scale loss of seagrass from Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. Wildl Res 22(4):507–519

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Preen AR, Long WJ, Coles RG (1995) Flood and cyclone related loss, and partial recovery, of more than 1000 km2 of seagrass in Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. Aquat Bot 52(1–2):3–17

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Queensland So (2004) Queensland climate change and community vulnerability to tropical cyclones, project synthesis report. Queensland Government, Brisbane

    Google Scholar 

  • Queensland So (2011a) Climate change in the Wide Bay Burnett Region. Queensland Government, Brisbane

    Google Scholar 

  • Queensland So (2011b) Great sandy regional marine aquaculture plan. Queensland Government, Brisbane

    Google Scholar 

  • Queensland So (2011c) Wide Bay Burnett regional plan. Queensland Government, Brisbane

    Google Scholar 

  • Queensland So (2012a) Population and dwelling profile, Fraser coast regional council. Queensland Government, Brisbane

    Google Scholar 

  • Queensland So (2012b) State of the environment report 2011. Queensland Government, Brisbane

    Google Scholar 

  • Rasheed MA, Unsworth RKF (2011) Long-term climate-associated dynamics of a tropical seagrass meadow: implications for the future. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 422:93–103. doi:10.3354/meps08925

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ribbe J (2006) A study into the export of saline water from Hervey Bay, Australia. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 66(3–4):550–558. doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2005.10.012

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ribbe J (2008) Monitoring and assessing salinity and temperature variations in Hervey Bay. Final report prepared for the Burnett Mary Regional Group, Bundaberg

    Google Scholar 

  • Ribbe J, Wolff J-O, Staneva J, Gräwe U (2008) Assessing water renewal time scales for marine environments from three-dimensional modelling: a case study for Hervey Bay, Australia. Environ Model Software 23(10–11):1217–1228. doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2008.02.007

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ridd PV, Stieglitz T (2002) Dry season salinity changes in arid estuaries fringed by mangroves and saltflats. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 54(6):1039–1049. doi:10.1006/ecss.2001.0876

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Robinson J (2001) The economic value of Australia’s estuaries: a scoping study. CRC for Coastal Zone Estuary and Watery Management, Brisbane

    Google Scholar 

  • Roy PS, Williams RJ, Jones AR, Yassini I, Gibbs PJ, Coates B, West RJ, Scanes PR, Hydson JP, Nichol S (2001) Structure and function of south-east Australian estuaries. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 53:351–384

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Samarasinghe JRS, Lennon GW (1987) Hypersalinity, flushing and transient salt-wedges in a tidal gulf – an inverse estuary. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 24:483–498

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Schröder-Adams CJ, Boyd R, Ruming K, Sandstrom M (2008) Influence of sediment transport dynamics and ocean floor morphology on benthic foraminifera, offshore Fraser Island, Australia. Mar Geol 254(1–2):47–61. doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2008.05.002

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sheppard JK, Lawler IR, Marsh H (2007) Seagrass as pasture for seacows: landscape-level dugong habitat evaluation. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 71(1–2):117–132. doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2006.07.006

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Stern H, de Hoedt G, Ernst J (2000) Objective classification of Australian climates. Aust Meteorol Mag 49(2):87–96

    Google Scholar 

  • Timbal B, Drosdowsky W (2012) The relationship between the decline of Southeastern Australian rainfall and the strengthening of the subtropical ridge. Int J Climatol 33:1021–1034

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Tomczak M, Godfrey S (2003) Regional oceanography: an introduction, 2nd edn. Daya Publishing House/Elsevier, Delhi/Amsterdam

    Google Scholar 

  • Vang L (2002) Distribution, abundance and biology of Group V humpback whales megaptera novaeangliae: a review. Queensland State Government, Brisbane

    Google Scholar 

  • Ward TM, Staunton-Smith J, Hoyle S, Halliday IA (2003) Spawning patterns of four species of predominantly temperate pelagic fishes in the subtropical waters of southern Queensland. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 56:1125–1140

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Whitfield L, Oude-Egberink K, Wecker B, Cravigan L, Dalla Pozza R, Hernaman V, Scott J, Chidzambwa S (2010) Climate change in Queensland: what the science is telling us. State of Queensland, Brisbane

    Google Scholar 

  • Williams AAJ, Stone RC (2009) An assessment of relationships between the Australian subtropical ridge, rainfall variability, and high-latitude circulation patterns. Int J Climatol 29(5):691–709

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wolanski E (1986) An evaporation-driven salinity maximum zone in Australian tropical estuaries. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 22:415–424

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Zann M, Phinn S, Done T (2012) Towards marine spatial planning for Hervey Bay’s coral reefs. Paper presented at the 12th international coral reef symposium, Cairns, 9–13 July 2012

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joachim Ribbe .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Ribbe, J. (2014). Hervey Bay and Its Estuaries. In: Wolanski, E. (eds) Estuaries of Australia in 2050 and beyond. Estuaries of the World. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-7019-5_11

Download citation