September Biodiversity Month blitzes past last year

Each September, the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) celebrates the arrival of spring and the explosion of life that comes with it. We are the caretakers of a ‘biodiversity hot spot’, which means there is an unusual diversity of life concentrated within our land management area.

Biodiversity Month runs for the 30 days of September and citizen scientists are encouraged to upload their observations of biodiversity to the online database, iNaturalist.

To facilitate this process, GORCC runs a number of education activities during the month in different habitats and areas of the GORCC management zone, and this year we partnered with Parks Victoria to run sessions in some areas of the Great Otway National Park.

The first community session was held on 1 September, with the day landing on both Father’s Day and Wattle Day. To start the day, Possum Pete led a group in exploring the Anglesea coastal track to see how many species of Wattle (Acacia sp.) and other plants and animals they could find.

A tiny Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla) pokes its head out from a blooming Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata) during our celebration of Wattle Day.
Blooming wattle along the Anglesea coastal track.

Later that day, the group explored the Point Roadknight rock pools with 25 keen young biologists and their parents, and they found a great selection of crabs, snails and anemones.

On 7 September GORCC ran a public Rock Pool Ramble at Rocky Point in Torquay. Despite the wintry conditions, 20 members of the public came out to explore wildlife living in the rock pools with us.

On Friday 13 September, GORCC partnered with Parks Victoria and the Friends of Eastern Otways to run a special biodiversity activity. Dubbed ‘Spooky Biodiversity’ because of the date, the group of 30 searched for the nocturnal creatures that might be considered scary at Moggs Creek picnic ground.

Kids surround Possum Pete at the activity trailer to see creepy crawlies up close on the digital microscope at Moggs Creek picnic ground.

There were quite a few insects about including some moths and the group heard the calls of Yellow Bellied Gliders and Boobook Owls when they went for a walk. Local biologist Craig Graham, under the permission and supervision of Parks Victoria, set up nets to capture this Little Forest Bat (Vespadelus vultunus). One of the smallest mammals in Australia, Little Forest Bats can weigh less than 4g.

A Little Forest Bat (Vespadelus vultunus) caught and handled by biologist Craig Graham at the ‘Friday 13th Spooky Biodiversity’ community event.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed their observations to this year’s September Biodiversity Month. What a great snapshot this project provides of the rich diversity of life in this region.

This year, we observed 100 species more than last year, with over 350 species identified. A big congratulations to Neil Tucker for recording the most observations and the greatest number of species throughout the BioBlitz in September, logging an amazing 221 observations and 198 different species. Neil is an active volunteer with coastal conservation groups ANGAIR and Torquay Coast Action and is renowned as an expert on local biodiversity, especially plants and fungi.

To check out all of the observations found throughout the Surf Coast this September BioBlitz, see iNaturalist’s website: www.inaturalist.org/projects/surfcoast-september-bioblitz-2019.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is a State Government body responsible for protecting, enhancing, and developing coastal Crown land from Point Impossible to Cumberland River. All funds raised through the organisation’s commercial endeavours are reinvested back into the coast. Visit us at www.gorcc.com.au.

Surf Coast BioBlitz

Did you know that September is National Biodiversity Month?

September is a great time to explore the biodiversity of our incredible Surf Coast and to celebrate, the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is organising a BioBlitz!

Can you help us find all the different plants and animals along the Surf Coast? This is a chance to learn about the things that live where you live: plants, birds, fish, fungi, insects, arachnids – everything!

Join us in getting out and documenting this treasure-trove of life’s variety, all found in our backyard. Get your camera and upload your observations to iNaturalist, and if you are within the boundaries of the Surf Coast it will be included in the Surf Coast September 2019 BioBlitz.

Last year we had over 560 observations of approximately 250 species, including 123 species of plants, 47 species of birds, 5 mammals, 10 fungi, and many others.

Let’s see if we can beat last year’s efforts:

Throughout September, environmental educator Possum Pete will be out in the community running several BioBlitz sessions. Join an event near you or see what you can find with your friends.

Sunday 1 September – Pt Roadknight, Anglesea

  • 10.30am – 12pm – Biodiversity walk
    We’ll embark from Pt Roadknight boat ramp for a biodiversity exploration walk. To commemorate Wattle Day, we’ll admire the beautiful wattles that are currently on show and see what other amazing biodiversity we can find.
  • 4pm – Interactive activity trailer
    Our digital microscope will be set up for a look ‘Up Close’ at some of the smallest coastal creatures.
  • 5 – 7pm – Rock pool evening exploration
    Let’s see what creatures call the rock pools home – we may even spy an octopus! Bring your torch and a pair of sturdy shoes.

Saturday 7 September – Rocky Point, Torquay

  • 10.30am – Rock pool explore at Rocky Point
    Let’s see what creatures call the rock pools home – we may even spy an octopus! Meet at the rotunda at the end of Surf Beach Drive, next to Spring Creek. Bring a water a bottle and a pair of sturdy shoes.

Friday 13 September – Moggs Creek picnic ground

  • 5pm – late – Full moon creepy crawlies
    Let’s find all the amazing creatures people think are scary. We’ll be searching for arachnids, bats, and phobia-inducing fluffy moths. If we’re lucky, we might hear the cackle of the Yellow-bellied Glider to the full moon. Bring good shoes, appropriate clothing and your water bottle. This is a Friends of Eastern Otways activity in partnership with Parks Victoria.

If you are interested in attending an event please RSVP with Possum Pete on 0412 044 127. To register with iNaturalist and track your BioBlitz observations head to www.inaturalist.org.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is a State Government body responsible for protecting, enhancing, and developing coastal Crown land from Point Impossible to Cumberland River. All funds raised through the organisation’s commercial endeavours are reinvested back into the coast. Visit us at www.gorcc.com.au.

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

Fence a win for environmental and cultural heritage conservation

Under the guidance of Wadawurrung (Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation), a rabbit proof fence has recently been installed by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC).

A win for both environmental and cultural heritage conservation, the fence is designed to disrupt destructive rabbit activity in and around Whites Beach, Torquay.

The fence is positioned between an area known as ‘the gap’ along the gravel section of the Esplanade down to the Point Impossible Nude Beach.

The fence forms part of an integrated rabbit control program developed to support and restore ecological processes and preserve the integrity of culturally sensitive sites. Read more

Monitoring coastal erosion in Anglesea

The Great Ocean Road coast is constantly changing.

While Victoria has a long history of weather variability such as storms, droughts and floods, climate change is projected to increase risks to coastal environments through drivers such as sea-level rise, change in wave-direction and increases in swell energy and storm tide events. These drivers affect coastal erosion, sediment supply and inundation and are expected to vary geographically across Victoria’s coastal zone.

The Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program (VCMP) aims to provide communities with information on coastal condition, change, hazards, and the expected longer-term impacts associated with climate change that will support decision making and adaptation planning. Read more

Environmental protection from the next generation of coastal innovators

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