Fish count makes census for divers

Victoria’s third annual fish census gets underway today with up to 300 scuba divers and snorkellers monitoring marine life at their favourite divesites.

The Victorian Great Fish Count, which runs from December 1-16, aims to take a snapshot of 25 of the state’s most interesting fish species including Victoria’s marine emblem, the Weedy Seadragon.

Reef Watch coordinator Wendy Roberts said scuba divers would explore kelp forests, sponge gardens and seagrass meadows in key underwater locations along Victoria’s coast to record fish numbers and species.

“Their efforts will provide valuable insights into a world very few of us explore,” Ms Roberts said.

“Victoria’s coastal waters are home to more than 700 species of fish but most people have no idea that more than 80 per cent of fish species living in Australia’s southern waters are found nowhere else in the world.”

Results of the 2007 survey will go directly into a database for use by managers, scientists, conservation groups and for future comparisons.

Last year, 245 divers took part in the event at 20 reefs dotted along the coast from Cape Conran to Portland.