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.

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Caption: A Port Jackson shark- the face of the 2018 Fish Count. Photo by Jack Breedon

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

The 14th Great Victorian Fish Count saw over 750 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!

The report for 2018 is available for download below.

The 2019 Great Victorian Fish Count was held from 16 November until 15 December. We had a fantastic response with many returning groups hitting the water once again along with some new faces and sites. Watch this space for updates on the 2019 report!

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.

Latest report

Download 2018 Report

Thank you to all the divers and snorkelers who took part in the 2018 Great Victorian Fish Count- the biggest count to date!

Some of the highlights from 2018 include:

  • All of the shark and ray species, with the exception of the elephantfish, added to the count in 2017 have now been sighted
  • The Port Jackson shark was recorded in 11 per cent of surveys
  • Eastern blue gropers were recorded in 3 out of 4 surveys in their known range, and western blue gropers were also sighted in a small number of surveys
  • The blue throat wrasse continues to be the most commonly sighted species recorded in the highest abundance compared to any other species, although the magpie perch came a very close second


Previous reports

Download 2017 Report

Download 2016 Report

Download 2015 Report