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ReefWatch coordinator dives head first into his new role

Reef Watch coordinator Kade Mills.

Hanging out watching fish feeding on the sea floor as part of his PhD at Queenscliff rekindled Kade's awe for Victoria's underwater marine world.


Published 28 June 2016

If spending school holidays with his dad taught our new ReefWatch coordinator Kade Mills anything it was that he didn't want to be a plumber.

"My dad was a plumber, and as a kid I spent many school holidays 'onsite'," he says. "This often involved standing around open sewer pits while dad unblocked them.


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"This was fine for him, he lost his sense of smell at the beginning of his apprenticeship, but I had sensitive young nostrils and could never get used to it. So I became a marine scientist.

"Ironically, my very first dive as a marine scientist was at an ocean outfall (fortunately it was turned off) in Sydney."


Heading north

After completing Honours at Deakin University, which looked at the impact of bait collection in Shallow Inlet Marine and Coastal Park, Kade packed all of his worldly belongings into a car and headed north to work at Sydney University.

"It was here I had the opportunity to work in all the marine habitats NSW has to offer, but more importantly it was while living in Sydney that I became a dive fanatic," he says.

"Outside of diving for work I would get wet at every opportunity. I completed dive course after dive course until one day I was a dive instructor and a commercial diver."


Rekindled inspiration

Diving opened the door to some amazing experiences for Kade, including diving with Grey Nurse Sharks at South West Rocks and photographing corals in Darwin Harbour. But, like many people, he returned to the place of his childhood, and was fortunate enough to land a job in Queenscliff as a fisheries scientist.

"It's here I embarked on a PhD looking at fish communities forming around artificial reefs. The work involved plenty of diving and hours spent watching video footage of bait set out on the sea floor to attract fish," he says.

"All this hanging out with and watching fish rekindled my awe for the incredibly diverse and unique underwater world Victoria has to offer."

Kade has big shoes to fill, and is keen to acknowledge the amazing work done by his predecessor, Wendy Roberts.

"Without the incredible work Wendy put into ReefWatch I wouldn't have this opportunity to be involved in a program of such high standing in the dive community," he says.

"Preparations for my first Great Victorian Fish Count are underway, and I look forward to meeting Victoria's ReefWatch community above and below the water."


Where to now for ReefWatch?

It is an exciting time for our ReefWatch program and we are looking forward to sharing it all with you in the coming months, including:

  • The bubbling of some new ReefWatch projects.
  • A presentation on over 10 years of Great Victorian Fish Count data collected by an inspiring community of ReefWatchers.
  • Our 2016 Great Victorian Fish Count within earshot.
  • Playing an important role in an operation at Blairgowrie Pier where the local dive community is attempting to safely transplant an entire marine sponge community. If successful we believe it will be the largest operation of its kind in the world.

Keep an eye out for our September edition of Park Watch for details on what to expect from ReefWatch as we dive into a new chapter!


More info

To get in touch with Kade phone the office on 03 9341 6500 or email

Learn more about ReefWatch >>