When the Blairgowrie Pier was set for redevelopment, Operation Sponge kicked in.
Local dive company, Dive 2U, banded together volunteers from the Victorian dive community to help save more than 5000 sponges and ascidians (seasquirts) destined for landfill. They began collecting and relocating sponges in August 2016 and expected to be completed by November 2016.
To do this, the Dive 2U crew devised an ingenious method to remove sponges from the pier’s timber panels being replaced and to glue them on to the new panels. This has never been attempted at this scale anywhere in the world and we will now monitor how the sponges respond to the move.
With artificial marine structures being constantly upgraded with little or no consideration for the marine communities living on them, the project’s results could give them new hope. Resource managers, scientists and community groups around the world will be given a new understanding on how facilities can be upgraded while maintaining marine life.
You can help us learn more about how the sponges and ascidians are doing after transplantation by taking photos on your regular dive at Blairgowrie. Before you do though, have a read of the Adopt a sponge manual.