On Wednesday 5 September, around 160 students from five local schools gathered in Torquay to learn, work-shop ideas and celebrate coastal conservation at the annual Coast Guardians Forum hosted by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee.
The year 9 students from Northern Bay College, Surf Coast Secondary College, Geelong Lutheran College, Lorne Aireys Inlet P-12 College, and Sacred Heart College had a day of guest presenters, exciting activities and prizes as part of the Great Ocean Road Coast’s award-winning Environmental Education Program. Read more →
Seven organisations have worked together to bring environmental education alive for 170 local students as part of National Water Week and in celebration of 20 years of Waterwatch.
The ‘Creek Connections’ event, which was hosted by the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) at Spring Creek, saw the students learn about local water catchments.
The day involved volunteers and staff from Waterwatch, The Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre, the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation, The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC), Estuarywatch and EcoLogic.
Grade 3 and 4 students from St Therese Primary School, Torquay P-6 College, Lorne Aireys P-12 College and Anglesea Primary School enjoyed everything from ‘water bugs’ sessions and ‘estuary discoveries’ through to a ‘walk and talk’ with Wathaurung Elder Bryon Powell.
GORCC Conservation Officer, Georgina Beale who helped to host a ‘recycle relay’ and conduct planting sessions in threatened Moonah Woodlands said students learnt about keeping water catchments healthy.
“The kids learnt about the interconnectedness of our catchments, rivers, estuary and marine environments and the protection and conservation of our river systems and their dependent eco systems,” she said.
Students worked tirelessly to create water bug costumes out of recycled items for the ‘Terrific Transformer bugs Creative Costume Challenge’ in the lead up to the event.
Winners of the best costume prize received special computer microscopes which will allow their whole class to view water bugs up close on a large screen.
Waterwatch Facilitator, Cate Barham said the diverse range of activities aimed to encourage students to develop an appreciation and understanding of marine, estuarine and freshwater environments and Wathaurung culture.
“Everything we do in our catchment can have an impact on our waterways. If you drop a piece of litter, it will eventually find its way to a waterway and then out to the ocean, where it can have devastating effects on our marine life,” she said.
Waterwatch Victoria recognises that only 22% of Victoria’s rivers are considered in good or excellent condition, highlighting the need for action to protect and maintain the health of our local water catchments.
Ms Barham encourages other community members to become active in protecting and caring for their local water catchments by joining a Landcare, Coastcare or Friends group in their area.
“We are all responsible for caring for our catchments and hopefully others will feel inspired by the enthusiastic efforts of our Creek Connections ambassadors,” she said.
A young coastal volunteer is keen for more people to discover the coast’s “intriguing” estuaries at an upcoming community event.
Anglesea EstuaryWatch volunteer Georgie Grieg, 23, regularly takes samples at five different sites along the Anglesea River estuary, including the estuary mouth, as part of the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) EstuaryWatch Program.
CCMA is hosting an “Estuaries Unmasked” event with presentations from coastal experts for people interested in learning about river estuaries and the EstuaryWatch program. Special guest speakers include Fiona Warry, an Estuarine Scientist at Arthur Rylah Institute and Gregory McDonald from Wild Sea at Melbourne Zoo.
Ninety-three active monitors across the state are involved in EstuaryWatch, monitoring estuaries to help river managers determine their health.
Ms Greig, who is a safari guide at Werribee Open Range Zoo, said she got involved because she wanted to learn more about waterways and river health and estuaries really intrigued her.
“I knew they had two layers with the salt and fresh water but I didn’t know much more and I thought joining EstuaryWatch was a good way to check out the beach and would be a pretty relaxing way to spend some time too.
“My role in this group involves monitoring the estuary every couple of months (each month it is monitored by two of the Anglesea volunteers), filling in if needed and being an avid team leader.
“It’s rewarding to be a part of the group and to know the data collected is important for estuary health and basic knowledge,” she said.
CCMA EstuaryWatch coordinator Rose Herben said there are seven volunteers who conduct monitoring and testing at the Anglesea River.
“Volunteers take photos of the river mouth, record wind strength and sea scales, and monitor whether the estuary is open or closed. They also test oxygen, salinity, depth, pH levels, and assess how water quality changes from top to bottom,” she said.
Volunteers record data collected on the EstuaryWatch Online Database which covers estuaries in all three CMA regions and can be viewed by clicking on the location maps at estuarywatch.com.au.
“Community members are always interested and keen to know more about what you are doing so there are opportunities to connect the public to their estuary and conservation initiatives,” Ms Greig said.
The seminar is on Wednesday 22 May from 6.30-8.30pm at Apollo Bay Bowls Club, 6 Moore Street, and Apollo Bay. To RSVP for the seminar or to learn more about EstuaryWatch contact Rose Herben on 5232 9100.
Have you been involved in an EstuaryWatch program? Leave your experience in the comments section below.
A new community-based environmental research initiative is helping to monitor long term vegetation and landscape change on our coast.
The Fluker Post Research program, which involves monitoring change on selected sites through photography, has been established by the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) and Victoria University .
Participants are being invited to submit photos taken from the post to track how a project site changes over time.
CCMA coastal projects officer Jannes Demetrious said it is a great way for the community, and even those just passing by a site, to take part in an important environmental project.
“All you need to do is take a photo and email it in. Photos can be taken with a digital camera and emailed later or with a Smartphone and emailed directly using the barcode scanner QR code on the post,” he said.
The posts have been installed for several months and already the project has received a positive response.
“We were expecting one or two photos a month but so far we have received about 20-25 photos from the posts a month,” said Mr. Demetrious
The posts are named after Victoria University’s Dr Martin Fluker who developed the idea to improve the accuracy of photo point monitoring.
Changes to vegetation are being monitored whilst rehabilitation work is undertaken on the sites and will continue for up to 5-10 years.
Mr Demetrious said this is the first use of these posts to monitor vegetation condition.
“We hope to see a decrease in weedy vegetation and we can document any erosion if it’s occurring,” he said.
There are currently five posts located on Great Ocean Road Coast Committee managed areas and two more installed on Surf Coast Shire managed areas.
Posts are located at Torquay’s Rocky Point and Yellow Bluff, Aireys Inlet along Painkalac Creek and near the lighthouse, Anglesea’s Fairylands and along Anglesea River and along Lorne Point.
The initiative is funded through the CCMA’s Coastal Tender program, funded by the Australian Government which has funded numerous environmental projects across the region.
Sightings of the endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot have buoyed conservation volunteers after images of the species were caught on remote sensor cameras between Anglesea and Aireys Inlet in recent months.
Environmental volunteers from the Friends of Eastern Otways group sighted a Southern Brown Bandicoot in June this year.
Volunteer Kaye Traynor said volunteers observed the rare species, which breed between June and December, during daylight hours in the Moggs Creek heathlands.
In a bid to protect and improve coastal biodiversity, the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CMA) has been using remote motion sensor cameras to monitor what species are using coastal habitats in the region.
The cameras – set up at sites in Anglesea and Aireys Inlet – were successful in capturing images of the species on two occasions about three months ago.
Corangamite CMA Biodiversity Manager Nick McCristal said “the cameras are moved through a range of biodiversity projects throughout the CMA region and capture a variety of species.”
Mr. McCristal said the use of remote sensing cameras was a relatively recent addition to the program, as the technology has become less expensive and more reliable.
“The cameras are placed in locations that we believe animals will utilise, such as pathways and water holes and are activated by a motion sensor as fauna moves past,” he said.
Ms Traynor said protection of habitat was very important as well as keeping pets, especially cats and dogs under control.
“Fox predation is also a serious problem,” she said.
Southern Brown Bandicoots are listed as nationally endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
What does the Southern Brown Bandicoot look like?
The southern brown bandicoot is a medium sized marsupial about the same size as a small rabbit
Has pointed snout, small eyes, rounded ears, compact body, large rump and a thinly furred short, thin tail approximately half of the body length.
Fur is coarse, greyish or yellowish brown above with a whitish belly
The DSE factsheet has included a detailed description on the Southern Brown Bandicoot.
The major current threats to bandicoots are predation, primarily by foxes but also by dogs and cats, and loss of habitat by clearing of vegetation which removes patches where they can live and limits their capacity to move between remaining patches.
What the community can do to protect the endangered species:
The Department of Sustainability and Environment said on their fact sheet there are a number of things the community can do including:
Controlling foxes on your property
Creating new habitat or improving remaining patches by planting appropriate indigenous understory species
Considering staged weed removal and replacing weeds with appropriate native plants
This Clip produced by the OCCN shows volunteers removing Boneseed on three Victorian Properties:
OCCN Facilitator Luke Hynes said that these weeds are having a devasting effect on our local environment and coastline. He said that it is also the perfect opportunity to share information and discuss how to encourage biodiversity in a community-oriented environment.
“We are now planning future projects and community input is vital,” he said.
Who else will be there?
Representatives from Great Ocean Road Coast Committe (GORCC), Parks Victoria, VicRoads, The Department of Sustainabilty and Environment, The Corangmite Catchment Management Authority, Landcare, local councils, coastal land managers, Trust for Nature and other conservation groups, will also be there contributing their ideas.
‘We are asking for input and are looking forward to seeing to see representatives from the community on the 18th of April,‘ said Mr. Hynes
What are the details?
When: Wednesday 18th April, from 10am-12pm.
Where: Otway Estate, 10 Hoveys Road, Barongarook.
Lunch will also be provided!
RSVP: If you’re interesting in coming along to the workshop, please RSVP to Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438 for catering purposes.