Every November and December, hundreds of divers and snorkelers plunge into  the water to take part in the biggest citizen-science event on Victoria’s marine calendar, the Great Victorian Fish Count.

Armed with a dive slate, they record the numbers of a selection of important fish species and report any others not usually found in the area as part of this long-term monitoring of fish across the Victorian coast.

The Count has been running  since 2002, led by the Victorian National Parks Association in partnership with Museum Victoria, Parks Victoria, Coastcare Victoria, RedMap, local dive operators and local community groups.

The data collected is uploaded to the Atlas of Living Australia (an online store for biodiversity data, currently with over 67 million records) to improve our knowledge of Victoria’s marine species.

According to Phillip Wierzbowski, from Coastcare Victoria, the Great Victorian Fish Count is ‘an experience that not only contributes to citizen science while admiring the diversity of Victoria’s marine life, it is great fun too’.

The Great Victorian Fish Count is supported by the Victorian Government.

Last year’s Great Victorian Fish Count ran from 17 November until 16 December 2018 – and it was a record breaking event!

The 14th Great Victorian Fish Count saw over 700 people take part in 60 counts held throughout Victoria’s beautiful coastal waters. It was a phenomenal effort from everyone involved, with long-time supporters and first-time fish counters alike donning their fins and masks to collect a snapshot of fish diversity from Eastern Victoria, Western Victoria and within Port Phillip Bay.

Victoria has some unique sharks and rays, most of which are harmless to humans, and an encounter with one can be the highlight of a dive or snorkel. That’s why 2018’s count focused on these ‘friendly faces’ of our coastal waters, highlighting the vital role that sharks and rays play in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems. Divers and snorkellers were encouraged to look out for popular species such as the spotted wobbegong, smooth stingray and Port Jackson shark, and shared their encounters with the community!

Watch this space for the 2018 report and details on the 2019 Fish Count

To keep up to date with developments in this year’s event subscribe to ReefWatch updates at the bottom of this page.

The Great Victorian Fish Count is supported by the Victorian Government.

Download 2017 Report

The Great Victorian Fish Count continues to uncover the secret lives of fish living along our beautiful coastline, and with the target list of species expanding to include ten new and friendly shark and ray species, the 2017 Great Victorian Fish Count report is more exciting than ever.

Some of the highlights from 2017 include:

  • The smooth stingray recorded in nearly 50 per cent of surveys
  • The confirmed sighting of a white-barred boxfish in Port Phillip Bay suggests this species may be expanding its range into Victorian waters
  • The Blue Throat Wrasse continues to be the most commonly sighted species recorded in the highest abundance compared to any other species

Thank you to the 700 divers and snorkelers who took part in the 2017 Great Victorian Fish Count!

Previous reports

Download 2016 Report

Download 2015 Report