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Sea Search celebrates marine life

Friday 16 November, 2012

As we reach the 10 year anniversary for Victoria’s marine national parks and sanctuaries today, we are also celebrating the involvement of our community in caring for special marine environments like Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary near Aireys Inlet and Point Addis Marine National Park.

At a community training day at last weekend, local volunteers were introduced to the new Sea Search community based monitoring program which will help to track the health of the marine environment.

Around 30 Friends of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary and of Point Addis Marine National Park learned how to identify and monitor the marine life of rock platforms using methods such as measuring seaweed cover and counting marine animals like snails, sea stars and crabs.

There are some fascinating creatures on the intertidal rock platforms, like the Decorator Crab which attaches seaweed to its shell for protection, and even changes the colour of it to match its environment.

The monitoring uses half metre square grids or quadrats which are arranged according to pre-determined GPS co-ordinates. This information helps us understand the condition of the natural values in the parks, identifies emerging threats like marine pests, and helps Parks Victoria with management decisions.

Parks Victoria ranger Peter Hay helped organise the day and says it was a great way to involve interested locals in the health of a protected marine environment.

“One example is measuring the human impact on certain creatures like limpets. We count a species of limpet that is used by humans for bait or food and compare this with another type of limpet that is not targeted by humans. People really enjoy finding out that kind of scientific based information.”

The new Sea Search program includes a range of fun activities for people of all ages and abilities to collect valuable information for management of the marine national parks and sanctuaries.

As well as getting involved in intertidal rocky reef surveys, people can also take part in surveys of seagrass meadows, create image libraries for the species in their park, and go on a Sea Search patrol.

Celebrations coming up:

Create a 'Seascape of a Marine National Park' at the Cowrie Market in Torquay. This Saturday 18 November, 10:00am - 3:00pm, Elephant Walk, Esplanade, Torquay

Rockpool Ramble at Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary on 25 November, 2- 4.00pm, Bookings essential, call 5263 1133 or email Alicia.Ivory@parks.vic.gov.au  

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