THE Nature Coast Marine Group held its annual general meeting on Saturday, October 6 and started what is looking to be a very busy and interesting year ahead with a presentation by Dr Mel Coleman, research scientist with the Batemans Marine Park.
Dr Coleman has been statistically analysing the data collected by NCMG volunteers doing snorkel surveys twice a year of rocky reefs in 12 locations in and adjacent to the marine park.
Some sites are in sanctuary zones, some in habitat protection zones and others are just to the north or south of the park.
Dr Coleman reported that although we have only four years data, less for some of the island sites, it was clear that legal sized abalone are more plentiful in sanctuary zones.
She also speculated that it is probably too early to see statistically significant differences for most species, especially fish.
One of the reasons is that each site is naturally so different to the others that any potential changes at each site will have to be examined over many years.
However, Dr Coleman did find that there already seemed to be more red morwong in the sanctuary zones.
The project continues and the next round of surveys will start in December or January.
NCMG always welcomes new people to the group and their activities so anyone interested in getting involved in these surveys should contact NCMG by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
All that is required is basic snorkelling skills, and training is provided.
NCMG secretary Nick Blackman presented an entertaining video of the group’s scuba diving marine life surveys.
You can view this at www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0Omw4DfOPY
The meeting also heard from the new president of the Sapphire Coast Marine Society (SCMS), Michael MacMaster.
The two groups are looking forward to co-operating more in the year ahead by inviting each other’s members to their activities.
Several people from NCMG participated in the Bermagui BioBlitz organised by a SCMS member earlier this year and another one is being planned.
The “Blitzes” add records of species to the Atlas of Coastal Wilderness, part of a nationwide database being developed to show where each Australian plant or animal can be found.
Plans to continue and extend the NCMG’s marine life research program into 2013 were also discussed at the meeting.
There will be a focus on grey nurse sharks and black cod both of which are endangered species.
As well as scuba diving and snorkel surveys there will also be a program using baited remote underwater video cameras in shallow water.
The Nature Coast Marine Group has an extensive program of activities where members can have fun learning about our marine environment.
To find out more about the Group and to see other stories in this series, visit the website www.ncmg.org.au or search for Nature Coast Marine Group on Facebook and follow us there.