With your help we are on a mission to determine the population of weedy seadragons around Port Phillip and Western Port bays. All you need to do to help is submit images that have a clear side profile shots of weedy seadragons and let us know where it was from.

We know it is challenging to get out at the moment, but we would still love to have your old images of Weedy Seadragons. Images can be from any time in the last 10 years.

Using your image and simple pattern mapping software we will be able to determine if your dragon is a new individual or an old friend and add it to our database. Eventually we hope to have an image and name for every dragon at your favourite dive sites in Port Phillip and Western Port Bays.

Why?

Weedy seadragons are the Victorian marine emblem and one of the most popular fish in the sea. The only place on earth they are found is in the waters of southern Australia. We even have them living inside Port Phillip Bay, the busiest shipping terminal in the country and home to over 5 million people. Yet we know very little about their populations. Recent work on the genetics of weedy seadragons indicates that there is limited gene flow between isolated populations like those found in Port Phillip and Western Port Bays. This has implications on our local populations as potentially once they are gone, they are gone. Understanding the size of the population is one of the first steps to conserving this iconic species.

This project is funded by the Victorian Government’s Port Phillip Bay Fund with additional support provided by the University of Technology Sydney and the Underwater Research Group of New South Wales.

How you can help at the moment

While we may not be able to get out and about much at the moment (April 2020), we would love your old images of Weedy Seadragons.

Please take some time to go through your old underwater photos (have some fun while you are at it!).

If you have any clear side profile images of Weedy Seadragons taken in Port Phillip or Western Port bays from anytime in the past 10 years, please send them in to us on [email protected]. Remember to include the date and location the image was taken.

How you can help when it is ok to get back out and about again

Use your underwater camera to collect images of Weedy Seadragons anywhere in Port Phillip Bay, Westernport Bay and surrounds and send them to us (at [email protected])! It’s up to you how you find them, but always remember to follow safe diving and snorkelling practices. Read our ‘How to take photos of dragons‘ guide for more information. If you already have images please send them through with information on the date and location they were collected from.

Just remember they are protected under Commonwealth Law (1999) so please no harming or handling of them at any time.

 

Take some time to relax and watch Victoria’s marine emblem, the WeedySeadragon going about its day at Portsea Pier.

Kade Mills, ReefWatch Coordinator