Out and about with Possum Pete

Exploring the coast with Possum Pete

This time of the year is characterised by dynamic weather with the definite progression from warmer to colder months. We have experienced the crisp, blue sky and still autumn conditions, and then there’s the driving rain and blizzard-like gales as powerful Antarctic storms herald that winter has arrived on the Surf Coast. We had it all this term, and students had to be at their bravest to be out there in some of the more challenging conditions we’re likely to have all year.

There were many highlights this term, including the conservation activities with year 7s from Grovedale College, and ecosystem walks with Surf Coast Secondary. By far the largest and most impactful project was a partnership with Mackillop College, the Friends of Eastern Otways, Parks Victoria and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee. We have been able to remove a ferocious invasion of coastal tea-tree from significant heathland at Moggs Creek in sessions that represent hundreds of hours of volunteer work! Read more

Make your selfie a safe one

Living in the world of smartphones and selfies, there is a constant desire to take the perfect pic for every moment.

At Great Ocean Road Coast, we’re trying to make your memory of the Great Ocean Road a safer one, which is why we are seeking your feedback on what to do at the Memorial Arch site in Eastern View.  Read more

Forum Focusses on Biodiversity Issues

The Otway Biodiversity Forum was held in Colac recently with participants attending from across the region.  Groups representated included  management bodies,  government agencies,  and community organisations.

The Forum, hosted by the Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN), discussed how current conservation projects and ideas can be linked, prioritized, and improved upon and was aimed at increasing community awareness and improving ecological values and environmental well-being.

biodiversity forum

Department of Environment and Primary Industries District Planning Manager (Otway District) Craig Clifford said the forum was a well organised and productive day.

“By bringing all the stakeholders together to discuss projects, ideas and possible linkages/partnerships the OCCN can ensure an integrated approach to land management.

“The OCCN provides a platform for groups who do not fit within  formalised networks and provides the support and leadership they need,” he said.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgina Beale attended the day and was happy with the progress made by all groups.

“We have been able to discover related projects and identify other groups who have the same goals.   Hopefully we can team up in the future and have a greater positive  impact on the environment,” she said.

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Ms. Beale believes programs like GORCC’s Environmental Education Program can really benefit from increased support and partnerships.

“Community organisations and volunteer groups are vital in educating the younger generation…without them, students may not appreciate and take care of the environment,” she says.

To learn more about the Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN) and how they can help your group or organisation to reach your environmental goals, check out the video below:

The OCCN host regular biodiveristy forums and representatives from all regional groups and organisations are invited to attend. To learn more,  contact Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438 or email occn@occn.org.au.

Marine activities a hit with families

Kids on the coast have been getting up close with marine environments and enjoying everything from ‘adventure safaris’ to ‘ranger yarns’ as part of the free Summer by the Sea program. Children participating in a ‘rock pool ramble’ activity in Torquay recently were delighted to discover a range of unusual sea creatures in the rock pools at Point Danger.

Brody, Milly and Jessamine with starfish
Brodie Mascoll, Milly Dundle, Marine Park ranger Alicia Ivory and Jessamine Turner with a  sea star  found during the rock pool ramble.

Marine Park ranger Alicia Ivory who hosted the activity said the discovery of chitons, sea slugs, sea stars and blue bottle jellyfish in the rock pools helped to highlight the importance of looking after our local marine environment. “The plants and animals living in places like Point Danger Marine Sanctuary are sensitive and diverse with over 96 different types of sea slugs recorded over recent years,” she said. Participants Milly Dundle and Jessamine Turner said finding the different creatures was their favourite part of the activity. “I really liked finding the sea stars and learning that it’s important to put the rocks back where you found them so that the animals don’t get lost or hurt,” Milly said.

Milly Dundle with a starfish
Milly Dundle with a sea star.

Local resident Jill Tregonning said the chance to see the rock pools was a great opportunity for both herself and her granddaughter Milly. “Even though you live here, you don’t know and appreciate what’s under your nose until you actually see it,” Jill said. Summer by the Sea activities are an opportunity to uncover more about our precious coastal and marine environments with the help of expert guides. The annual event sees families come together to participate in fun, educational activities that are enjoyable for all age groups and participants range from locals to day trippers and regular visitors. “These activities help visitors learn how to look after the environment, while enjoying the parks. “It’s not just the children but also the adults who love learning new facts about the species they regularly see each time they visit the rock pools,” said Ms.Ivory.

Brody and Kai ??? with Marine Park ranger Alicia Ivory learning about the creatures which live in rockpools.
Brodie and Kai Mascoll with Marine Park ranger Alicia Ivory learning about the creatures which live in rockpools.

Ms Ivory said understanding why each species is important helps people realise how special our marine environments are. “It’s great to see people getting out and experiencing these amazing places that are protected for ours and future generations,” she said. Summer by the Sea is run by Parks Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment. More information is available at www.dse.vic.gov.au/summerbythesea.

This article featured in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column.

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New group protects sanctuary

The new Friends of the Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary group is seeking members and set for an official launch in February while spectacular underwater footage of the area has been released.

The newly formed volunteer group has been working with Parks Victoria and Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) to produce a short film showcasing marine life protected by the sanctuary.

The Surfcoast's newsest volunteer group - Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary group
The Surfcoast’s newsest volunteer group – Friends of the Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary

Founding members of the Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary group snorkelled with the cameraman and guided him to special parts of the sanctuary to produce underwater footage which showcases an array of marine life.

Parks Victoria’s Alicia Ivory said the film gives visitors a snapshot of what is beneath the waves in the sanctuary.

“Many visitors come for a photo and a look around the lighthouse but might never get a chance to get out into the water and see the marine life our sanctuary protects.

“It is a fantastic way to show people the different creatures making use of the area and what we all need to do to make sure they are safe and protected,” she said.

Watch the footage below!

 

90% of the plants and animals showcased in the video are only found along the southern coastline of Australia.

Ms. Ivory said these areas provide an important refuge for a number of rare and threatened marine animals and plants.

“Much of our marine life is found nowhere else in the world,” Ms Ivory said.

The film is accessible via QR barcodes on interpretive signage which has been installed above the marine sanctuary or directly via the GORCC website.

Visitors to the Split Point Lookout can take a photo of the barcode with their smart phone to instantly view the footage.

Interpretive signs installed by GORCC at Split Point Lookout.
Interpretive signs installed by GORCC at Split Point Lookout.

Manager of EcoLogic and Friends of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary founding member Sharon Blum-Caon said the group currently consists of six founding members and new participants are welcome.

“We catch up for snorkeling, rock pool ramblings, social events, coastal vegetation rehabilitation and photography,” she said.

Everyone is welcome at the official launch to be held on 9 February 2013 and attendees will receive a free Friends of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary pack including a T-shirt printed with an image of the sanctuary’s iconic Port Jackson Shark.

For more information contact Sharon on: 0412 257 802 or email tours@ecologic.com.au.

This story featured in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast column.

For further details on volunteering along the coast, view the GORCC volunteer page.

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