A combination of new recruits (Alaina, Elodie and Matt), old hands (Toni and Jacqui) and 2022 trainees (Tess, James, and Corinne) joined together at Queenscliff in Port Phillip Bay from the 9-13th November to undertake surveys. Running the weather (and water quality) gauntlet, Paul from Southend Dive Charters luckily found us spots to make these surveys possible. We successfully surveyed sites at Blairgowrie Pier, South Channel Fort, Kelp Beds, Portsea Bay, Port Franklin, and Pope’s Eye, and despite battling the conditions, there were still plenty of really special fish and invertebrates to be seen.
Some of the highlights included loads of small feather stars out in the open on Caulerpa carpets at South Channel Fort, as well as a sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus) that paid a visit at Kelp Beds. Unfortunately there's no photo of this one as it rendered Jacqui stunned while reeling out! We also spotted a warty prowfish (Aetapcus maculatus) at Pope’s Eye, plus some new finds for the database, including the tiny and delicate Polycera janjukia, thanks to Elodie’s eagle eyes! These little Polycerid nudibranchs can be found across much of south-east Australia, including Tasmania, New South Whales and Victoria and grow to around two centimetres long. While Elodie spotted this tiny critter crawling about on some algae, they can also be seen atop bryozoans and in rockpools.
James and Alaina were chef extraordinaires, and Toni even noted that it was one for the history books of tastiest food. While we were busy looking for weird and wonderful marine life, the diving gods claimed a dry suit neck seal, a slate, a weight pocket attachment, and added a ding to a fisheye lens. Thankfully we still got the job done and our own personal MacGyver Tess came to multiple gear rescues to keep us on track. Team Victoria is growing and we hope to get lots more surveys done over the summer. A massive thanks to Toni for volunteering her time and expertise, it was a great long weekend under the water!
While the focus was on training and the conditions made surveying difficult, the team still completed 14 surveys from 7 sites with over 84 species of fishes and macro-mobile invertebrates recorded in total. Big thanks also to James Chong for his excellent organization and Paul Serbo from Southend Charters for exceptional service as always. These surveys were funded through the Coastcare Victoria Community Grant 2021-22 Program.