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Divers take to the water for 2015 Great Victorian Fish Count

Friday 20 November 2015

Media release

The annual Great Victorian Fish Count kicks off this weekend. Over the next fortnight divers and snorkelers will look for fish species 'on the move' in response to changing marine environments, including warming caused by climate change.

The popular citizen science event will be coordinated by the Victorian National Parks Association from Saturday 21 November to December 6.

Dive locations will offer great photo opportunities, and include Rye Pier, Ricketts Point, Warrnambool Breakwater and Mornington Pier.

Divers and snorkelers from dive clubs, universities and schools, community groups and the general public will identify and count the fish they observe using specially-designed slates to help identify some of the species they come across.

The theme of this year's count is 'Fish on the Move', and will focus on species that may be changing their distributions because of changes in the marine environment such as ocean warming from climate change.

"We're really hoping some of our divers and snorkelers will spot fish of interest, take pictures and log their sightings on Redmap," said Museum Victoria's Dianne Bray, who coordinates the Redmap project in Victoria.

Redmap is a national 'citizen science' project that captures data and maps marine species that may be extending their range in Australia in response to changes in the marine environment.

Fish counters will also look for well-known locals such as Blue Throat Wrasse, Six-spined Leatherjackets and Zebra Fish, as well as species that may be new or unusual to the area. They'll also be encouraged to take photos of rare and unusual sightings and log them with the Redmap project (redmap.org.au).

The Victorian National Parks Association's Caitlin Griffith says 'citizen scientists' play an enormous role in adding to our knowledge of marine research.

"I'm looking forward to learning from snorkelers and divers involved in the count over its 11 year history. We all have so much knowledge to share, especially about our marine fish species," she said.

Parks Victoria's marine and coasts program leader Mark Rodrigue encourages people to get out and have fun with the count.

"The Great Victorian Fish Count is an extraordinary opportunity for people to have some fun and get out and into Victoria's outstanding marine environment, including our world-class marine protected areas. This wonderful event helps us understand how our marine environment may be changing."

This year's fish count has been coordinated by the Victorian National Parks Association in partnership with Parks Victoria, Museum Victoria, Coastcare Victoria, REDMAP Victoria, local dive operators and local community groups.

 

For comment

  • Caitlin Griffith, Community Education and Engagement Manager, Victorian National Parks Association - (03) 9341 6508.
  • Mark Rodrigue, Program Leader Marine and Coasts, Parks Victoria - 0429 350 971.
  • Phil Wierzbowski, Port Phillip and Westernport Facilitator, Coastcare Victoria - 0411 409 815.
  • Dianne Bray, coordinator Redmap Victoria, Sciences Department, Museum Victoria - 0405 717 210.

 

Photo & media opportunities

  • Rye Pier
    Organisation: Scuba Culture
    Date: 21 November, 28 November and 5 December
    Time: 12pm
    Contact: Xavier Le Vagueresse - 0412 179 951 or Xavier@scubaculture.com.au
  • Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary
    Organisation: Marine Care Ricketts Point
    Date: 21 November
    Contact: Gayle Kiteley - 0434 433 207 or g.kiteley@hotmail.com
  • Blairgowrie Pier
    Organisation: Ocean Divers
    Date: 28 December
    Time: 9:30am
    Contact: Liz Harper - (03) 9579 2600 or info@oceandivers.com.au
  • Stingray Bay, Merri Marine Sanctuary and Warrnambool Breakwater
    Organisation: Daktari Surf and Dive
    Date: 5 and 6 December
    Contact: Sharene Collett - 0433 755 553 or sharene@daktarisport.com.au
  • Mornington Pier
    Organisation: Harbour Dive
    Date: 5 December
    Time: 1pm
    Contact: Melanie Warren - (03) 5973 5356 or mel@harbourdive.com.au
  • Bunurong Marine Sanctuary (also opportunities at Cape Woolamai and Cape Paterson)
    Organisation: S.E.A.L. Diving Services
    Contact: Rob Timmers - M: 0428 513 511 or scuba@sealdivingservices.com.au
  • Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary, Barwon Heads
    Organisation: Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary and Parks Victoria
    Date: 5 December
    Time: 12pm
    Contact: Stephen Tuohy - M: 0400 612 198 or stephen.tuohy@parks.vic.gov.au

The fish count will offer great photo and media opportunities close to Melbourne, including at Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary, Beaumaris or at Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary at Barwon Heads.

High quality imagery will also be available for use by the media. Please contact the Victorian National Parks Association on (03) 9347 5188