ReefWatch volunteers make a real contribution to science
ReefWatch divers are the underwater watchdogs of Port Phillip Bay, so not much happens without them noticing. In fact ‘ReefWatchers’ were the first to sight the introduced nudibranch (Thecacera pennigera) as well as the range extension of the very hairy nudibranch (Bursatella leachii).
ReefWatch volunteers also confirmed the sighting of numerous fish species rarely seen in Port Phillip Bay including; western blue groper, yellow-fin leatherjacket, spotted grubfish, silver dory and the short-nosed boarfish.
Spider crab migration:
ReefWatchers are always on the lookout for species on the move. Volunteers have said that one of the highlights included providing alerts on the migration of spider crabs and the aggregation of Port Jackson sharks (having once spotted over 100 at Point Cooke). ReefWatch divers would be the first to let Museum Victoria and the dive community know when the crabs start migrating into the bay. They would often record footage and take photos to inform the public.
They also visit the same locations time and time again to note any changes. And by continuously watching their local environment they have provided images of the whole life cycle of an angler fish, from eggs to adult; filmed the mating behaviour of pygmy leatherjackets and witnessed the spawning behaviour of a paracaudina sea cucumber. Many of images taken by the volunteers have ended up in Museum Victoria publications.
ReefWatch always welcomes volunteers, please get in contact if you're interested in getting involved.