ReefWatch is our marine citizen-science program. It trains people like you to collect important information about fish, invertebrates and algae at locations across Victoria.

Through the hard work of ReefWatchers, we have:

  • Rediscovered and confirmed sightings of the western blue groper in Victoria’s coastal waters, sightings that were instrumental in gaining its protection in Victoria.
  • Discovered and photographed fish species never before seen or rarely seen in Victoria, including the spotted grubfish, silver dory, short-nosed boarfish and spiny anglerfish.

You can become a ReefWatcher by contributing to any of our great projects: Great Victorian Fish Count, Sea Slug Census, Dragon Quest and Marine Life of Victoria. You don’t have to be a diver, we’ve got projects to suit snorkelers and even those that would prefer not to get their feet wet! There are plenty of ways to experience Victoria’s underwater world, such as “diving” in with the Pope’s Eye ReefCam for a virtual window into the bay.

Do you want to learn more about these projects or how to become a ReefWatcher? If you do, read on.

Read the latest ReefWatch updates here.

We see so much, but we know so little. Every time you peer into a rockpool or pop your head underwater you will likely be looking at something that is only found in southern Australia. With over 3000 marine animals (and new ones being discovered all the time) there is a lot to learn. A simple way to start is to take a photo and share it with us on our Marine Life of Victoria iNaturalist page. Each and every photo will improve your identification skills and add to our knowledge of Victoria’s unique marine environment.

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Ornate cowfish

Since 2002, hundreds of divers and snorkelers have dropped below the waves in November and December to take part in the biggest citizen-science event on Victoria’s marine calendar, the Great Victorian Fish Count.

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Rapid life-cycles, specific food requirements and quick responses to changing oceanographic conditions make sea slugs ideal indicators of change. As it stands, we still know very little about their diversity, distribution and ecology. But that’s changing thanks to our citizen science slug sleuths.

Collecting photos of sea slugs present at different times throughout the year in in Port Phillip and Westernport Bay helps us monitor these species and track any changes.

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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. Images can be from any time in the last 10 years.

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Go for a dive without getting wet! Popes Eye, near the heads of Port Phillip Bay is home to Australia’s first ever rocky-reef live-feed underwater webcam. You can now enjoy one of Victoria’s premier dive sites from anywhere in the world.

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Launching a settlement plate for the PlateWatch programMussels and Oysters once formed vast shellfish reefs in Port Phillip Bay, but since European settlement are all but lost. Between 2017-2020, ReefWatch and a team of coastal community groups and dive stores monitored shellfish recruitment within Port Phillip Bay to find “hotspots” and help inform restoration efforts.

(Previously known as Plate Watch)

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There are plenty of activities for you to choose from in ReefWatch.

You could be searching for sea slugs, counting fish, questing for dragons, or even going for a virtual dive and identifying what you see.

By becoming a ReefWatcher, you’ll meet a wide range of people interested in nature and science, learn and share knowledge and skills, gain experience in marine conservation and spend time getting wet.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced ecologist, VNPA would love to have you sharing what you discover with us in ReefWatch.

Would you like to help out?

Please contact us on 03 9341 6500 or email us at [email protected] if you would like more information about being a ReefWatch volunteer.

Please note: we are currently unable to host ReefWatch volunteers in our workplace. We encourage anyone interested in volunteering for a specific project (e.g. Great Victorian Fish Count) to get in touch for more details.