MEDIA RELEASE:  26 October 2017

This summer hundreds of divers and snorkelers will take to the water as part the Great Victorian Fish Count, the largest marine citizen science event in Victoria.

“People across the state band together to collect important information on the distribution and relative abundance of some of Victoria’s unique marine life.

“The collection of so much data over such a large area would not be possible without the incredible support of the community,” said Kade Mills, ReefWatch coordinator for the Victorian National Parks Association.

Now in its thirteenth year, the Great Victorian Fish Count is organised by the Victorian National Parks Association in partnership with local dive operators and community groups. It is supported by Parks Victoria, Museums Victoria, Redmap Australia and Coastcare Victoria.

This year the event will run over a record five weekends from Saturday November 18 until Sunday December 17 at sites along the Victorian coastline.

Caption: – Underwater photos are available for use by the media. Please phone John Sampson on 0411 294 293 for a download link.
– The fish count will offer some great photo and media opportunities close to Melbourne, including at: Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary at Point Cook, Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary at Beaumaris, Rye Pier, St Leonards Pier and Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary at Barwon Heads. Phone Kade Mills on 0407 363 719.

For the first time since the Great Victorian Fish Count began, 10 new species have been added to the target list volunteers will record, including Victoria’s amazing shark and stingray diversity.

“Seeing a stingray on a dive or snorkel is usually a highlight, but seeing a shark when you are in the water is an unforgettable experience,” Mr Mills said.

“Victoria has some unique rays and sharks, many harmless to humans, that we’re interested in finding out more about, particularly in hotspots like Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary and Jawbone Marine Sanctuary.”

Parks Victoria will coordinate snorkel surveys in many of Victoria’s marine national parks and sanctuaries.

“Marine national parks and sanctuaries help protect some of our unique marine life in Victoria,” Parks Victoria’s Marine Science Manager Steffan Howe said.

“Around 85% of species along Australia’s southern coast don’t occur anywhere else in the world.

“Volunteers and citizen scientists play a very important role providing information about the parks to help us manage them more effectively. Parks Victoria has had a long association with the Great Victorian Fish Count and our rangers are looking forward to getting in the water with volunteers over the next couple of months to continue adding to our understanding of fish communities in the parks.”

The Great Victorian Fish Count is also closely aligned with the national Redmap project, which in Victoria is led by Museums Victoria. Redmap tracks marine species that may be “moving home” due to warming oceans. Fish counters will be encouraged to sign up to Redmap and log sightings of sharks, rays and other unusual fish they encounter on their dives.

“Although healthy shark and ray populations are vital to maintaining healthy oceans, many species are threatened around the world and their populations are in decline,” said Dianne Bray, Redmap Australia Program Leader for Victoria.

“The Great Victorian Fish Count will greatly increase our knowledge of sharks, rays and other fish in Victoria. Please sign up to Redmap (www.redmap.org.au) and log your sightings to help us gather information on the impacts of climate change along our coast.”

Registrations of interest for the Great Victorian Fish Count are currently open to dive clubs and community groups to run an activity along the Victorian coastline. For further information visit our fish count page or phone the Victorian National Parks Association on (03) 9341 6500.

Get involved in the 2017 Great Victorian Fish Count

Survey sites already confirmed include Flinders Pier, Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary, Rye Pier, Blairgowrie Pier, Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary, Bunurong Marine National Park, Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary, Portland, Warrnambool and Port Fairy.

 

For comment

  • Kade Mills, ReefWatch Coordinator, Victorian National Parks Association – 0407 363 719.
  • Mark Rodrigue, Program Leader Marine and Coasts, Parks Victoria – 0429 350 971.
  • Dianne Bray, Senior Collections Manager, Vertebrate Zoology, Sciences Department, Museums Victoria – 0405 717 210.
  • Phil Wierzbowski, Port Phillip and Westernport Facilitator, Coastcare Victoria – 0411 409 815.

 

A complete list of the 2017 Great Victorian Fish Count event sites

Western Victoria

  • Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary, near Aireys Inlet
  • Lee Breakwater, near Portland
  • Merri Marine Sanctuary, near Warrnambool
  • Pea Soup, near Port Fairy
  • Warrnambool Breakwater, in Warrnambool
  • Port Campbell Bay, at Port Campbell

Bellarine Peninsula

  • Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary, near Barwon Heads
  • Castle Rock dive site, offshore from Queenscliff
  • “Harry’s Reef”, Queenscliff
  • Pope’s Eye, Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park, offshore from Queenscliff
  • St Leonards Pier, St Leonards, near Queenscliff

Melbourne

  • Frankston Pier, Frankston
  • Jawbone Marine Sanctuary, Williamstown
  • Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary, Point Cooke
  • Point Ormond Reef, Elwood
  • Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary, Beaumaris
  • Royal Beach, Mornington

Mornington Peninsula

  • Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron, at Blairgowrie, Mornington Peninsula
  • Flinders Pier, Flinders, Mornington Peninsula
  • Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary, Flinders, Mornington Peninsula
  • Portsea Pier, Portsea, Mornington Peninsula
  • Rye Pier, Rye, Mornington Peninsula

Eastern Victoria

  • Bunurong Marine National Park, near Cape Paterson
  • Cape Woolamai, Phillip Island