MEDIA RELEASE 26 February 2016 |

More than 350 volunteer citizen scientists donned masks and snorkels to record fish species at 44 sites along Victoria’s coastline as part of the 2015 Great Victorian Fish Count.

Results of volunteer efforts have been released by the Victorian National Parks Association in a report on the fish count.

“We are pleased to be reporting all of our Great Victorian Fish Count results back to marine managers, volunteers, community groups and scientists. The results help all of us learn more about what is happening in our marine environment,” said Caitlin Griffith, the Victorian National Parks Association’s manager of education and engagement.

Mark Rodrigue, marine planner with Parks Victoria, said community groups, marine managers, dive operators and community organisations all worked closely to make the 2015 Great Victorian Fish Count one of the largest in its 11 year history.

“This collaborative community effort demonstrates the wonderful enthusiasm Victorians have for their coast and local fish species,” he said.

In one surprising find the fish count turned up a very rare Spinycoat Anglerfish in unusually shallow waters at Blairgowrie. The sighting has been logged on Redmap, a national citizen science project looking at changes in marine species.

Dianne Bray, coordinator of Redmap in Victoria, said logging unusual sightings with helps contribute to our understanding of the sorts of changes we might see over time in our marine environment.

Other species of conservation interest recorded at a number of the sites include eastern and western blue gropers, Southern Blue Devil Fish and the Common (or Weedy) Seadragon.