Featured artist: Shannon Crees


Featured artist: Shannon Crees
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The Cooks River Health Report

RiverScience - Cooks River Ecological Monitoring Program aims to increase the scientific knowledge available to the community about the Cooks River. It was an initiative of the Cooks River Foreshore Working Group. The initial project was a joint project between Marrickville, Kogarah, Rockdale and Canterbury Councils and subsequent monitoring has been jointly funded by Marrickville, Canterbury and Rockdale Councils with support from the Wolli Creek Preservation Society and the Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC).

The project has identified indicators such as:

  • area of salt marsh, mangroves and seagrass; 
  • number of aquatic invertebrates such as oysters, barnacles and crabs;
  • sediment characteristics.

These will be measured at regular intervals at nominated sampling sites to determine the ecological health and rate of change of the River. This information will help the councils and community make management decisions for the River and determine the impact of programs to improve the health of the River.

See also: Cooks River Health Report Cards

The Cooks River Survey

The Cooks River Survey (2005) documents the findings of sediment sampling and analysis along the Cooks River by A/Prof Alberto Albani and Honours student George Kollias from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of New South Wales. Samples were analysed for sediment characteristics, sediment geochemistry, and distribution of benthic fauna.

The study presents an overall assessment of the present status of the Cooks River. This information can now be used as a baseline for further monitoring. The study has produced several anomalous occurrences of sediment types and heavy metals that require further investigations. Significant sediment deposits are seen where drains enter the River and downstream from the cemented canalised sections of the River. The report identifies major and trace elements found in the sediment and potential sources.
You can download the Cooks River Survey (2005) below:

Results of 2009 monitoring

There is no doubt that the Cooks River is in poor ecological health. There is very low diversity and abundance of organisms compared to other estuarine systems in the Sydney region. However, consistent monitoring since 2005 is showing that the condition of the Cooks River is getting better.

Improvements and other noteworthy positive attributes include:

  • Diversity and abundance of benthic invertebrates in 2009 was similar to 2007. These numbers were low compared to 2005-06 and 2008
  • Crab numbers in 2009 were the highest recorded since monitoring began in 2005, and many small crabs were found in sediment samples
  • Hard surfaces colonisation was variable, with bare space cover at a maximum for 60% of sites
  • Estuarine vegetation in the Cooks River is dominated by healthy mangrove forests and small patches of saltmarsh (both remnant and reconstructed) exist.

A summary of the 2009 results can be seen in the RiverScience Report Card 2009; full results can be found in the RiverScience - Cooks River Ecological Monitoring Program (December 2009) Report.

You can also download report cards and full results from previous years:


Other Downloads

The Cooks River Ecological Monitoring Program: