The Great Victorian Fish Count, Victoria’s largest marine citizen science event, is celebrating its 20th anniversary hoping people from all over the state will get involved. From November 12 until Sunday December 11, divers and snorkelers will take to the Victorian coastline to count fish at their local dive sites – from Port Fairy in the West to Marlo in the East.
Hundreds of citizen scientists armed with dive slates will record the numbers of important fish species, and any others not usually found in the area, as a part of this long-term effort to monitor fish across the state.
They’ll follow in the wake of other keen citizen scientists who have not only counted fish, but have found new fish species, since the first count in 2002.
Victorian National Parks Association ReefWatch Coordinator, Kade Mills, says this year’s Great Victorian Fish Count is an opportunity to look back on 20 years of discoveries.
“Over the past two decades divers and snorkelers have rediscovered the Western Blue Groper in Victoria waters and found fish species never before seen like the Spotted Grubfish, Silver Dory, Short-nosed Boarfish and Spiny Anglerfish,” says Mills.
“Not only is the count heaps of fun, it also makes a really important scientific contribution that highlights the incredible diversity of Victoria’s marine life.”
What the Great Victorian Fish Count involve?
The Great Victorian Fish Count has selected 35 “target” Victorian fish species – including 10 sharks and rays – to help compare data from previous years.
They’ve put together a handy photo guide, including the differences between males, females and juveniles, to help people seeing these fish in the field for the first time.
But there are so many more fish in Victorian waters than can be fit on their survey sheets, so they’ve also included a list of common other species so that participants can record any non-target species they come across while uploading their official results.
The data collected is then uploaded to the Atlas of Living Australia, where it can be used for research and environmental management.
Registrations to run a Great Victorian Fish Count event are still open to dive clubs, tour operators and community groups. Or you get in touch with the hosts of event near you.
Imma Perfetto is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Science Communication from the University of Adelaide.
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