In early May and June 2019 RLS members Wendy Hutchinson, Alicia Sutton, Alicia McArdle, Cheryl Petty, Kevin Smith, Nestor Echedey Bosch Guerra, Chris Cunnold, Michael Brooker, Paul Day and trainees Jan Ranson, Bernard Wong and Megan Jamieson headed over to Rottnest Island for the 12th annual survey of the Rottnest Island Marine Reserve.
In recent years the team has been faced with very difficult conditions after bad luck brought storms just days before the scheduled surveys, this time it was going to be different.
Light winds produced conditions reminiscent of our best years at the island with afternoon glass offs and visibility often 15 m or more despite the long period swell.
With these conditions the team was able to survey 16 sites completing 46 transects in 5 days. Notable finds included a small number of the tropical snail Dogwood drupe (Dupella cornus) and a new record for nudibranch species at Rottnest – Liz’s Phyllidiella (Phyllidiella lizae), great spotting by Nestor.
In total 90 species of fish were recorded on method 1 and 56 species of cryptic fish and macro mobile invertebrates were recorded on method 2.
The team stayed at the research station, nestled between Herschel Lake and Government House Lake, accessed by the narrow causeway. The station is a great facility with heaps of room for dive gear, cameras, plenty of space to work (and for humorous exchanges between divers!), and there are excellent cooking facilities. A huge thanks to Helen Geers, Cassyanna Grey and Shane Kearney from the Rottnest Island Authority for providing huge logistical support and helping to iron out the bumps in the run up to the trip and for their ongoing commitment to Reef Life Survey monitoring at Rottnest Island. A special shout to Rottnest Fire and Emergency Services Manager Brendon McLaughlin. Simply outstanding support from Brendon and without his help ensuring our tanks were filled each night we simply would not have achieved what we did. Thanks also to WA State NRM Funding Program for supporting Reef Life Survey.
A special mention to Wendy Hutchinson and our Skipper Chris Cunnold from Underwater Explorers Club WA. Chris’s in depth knowledge of Rottnest’s reefs and our sites always puts us on the mark in the right conditions. Thanks also to ducky skipper Kevin Smith for running his boat team like a well oiled machine.