The Reef Life Survey team descended on Port Phillip Heads in Victoria for the 8th year of RLS surveys this February. The team consisted of Victorian locals: Debbie Dalziel, Jen Hoskin, Dan Ierodiaconou, Don Love and Paul Tinkler, plus two new Victorian trainees: Paul Carnell and Jordan Logan, and Toni Cooper and German Soler from the RLS crew in Tassie.
Using the local expertise of Paul Serbo from Southend Dive Charters and Don Love, the crew split up into 2 groups to maximise survey effort with the challenging tides. As a result, the team successfully completed 40 surveys from 18 sites around Port Phillip Bay – with 14 of these being core Long Term Marine Park sites which feed directly into the Parks Victoria long-term data set.
Overall, 64 species of fish and 84 species of invertebrates and cryptic fishes were recorded for the 4-day diving expedition. Interestingly, invertebrate numbers were down this year – especially sea stars; and cryptic fishes such as Weedfishes, Warty Prowfish (Aetapcus maculatus) and Goblinfish (Glyptauchen panduratus) were also more scarce than usual. However, Popes Eye and South Channel Fort were thriving hubs for fish communities as always!
Huge thanks must also go to Paul Serbo and Don Love for skippering the vessels and helping us achieve such a great result and to Deakin University for their ongoing support.