Cool creeks for kids

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.

Gemma McNaughton and Charli Bechmann from Anglesea Primary School.
Gemma McNaughton and Charli Bechmann from Anglesea Primary School.

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.

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column

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Discover what’s intriguing about estuaries

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.

Georgie Grieg
Georgie Grieg

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.

Back Row (L to R)Jannes Demetrious, Colette Talbot, Monica Henry, Elyce Huren  Susan Delgrosso, Georgia Troup at Anglesea River Estuary Watch Biannual Quality Assurance Quality Control Event
Back Row (L to R)Jannes Demetrious, Colette Talbot, Monica Henry, Elyce Huren Susan Delgrosso, Georgia Troup at Anglesea River Estuary Watch Biannual Quality Assurance Quality Control Event

“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.

Georgie Grieg
Georgie Grieg

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.

This article featured in the fortnightly Green the Coast column in the Surf Coast Times.

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EstuaryWatch volunteers monitor Erskine

LorneCare Volunteer monitoring the estuary.

The LorneCare September Newsletter reports volunteers have been monitoring various aspects of Lorne estuaries and the prevailing sea and weather conditions as part of the Erskine River EstuaryWatch Group.

Two LorneCare volunteers, Michael Callanan and Ulric Orr, photograph their observations monthly and record them on to the EstuaryWatch database.

“We take photo points and monitor wind, whether the river is flowing out or in and measure the height of the tide by using the tide chart board near the Erskine River.

“The estuary is dynamic, fascinating and we are always noticing changes,” Mr Callanan said.

CCMA EstuaryWatch Coordinator Rose Herben explained in the September LorneCare Newsletter that EstuaryWatch is a community-based estuarine monitoring program collecting monthly estuary mouth condition and physical-chemical data.

The program was initiated as part of the Large Scale River Restoration Initiative – Managing our Great Ocean Road Estuaries, a program coordinated through the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA),

Estuaries are an important link between the ocean and the land, where salty marine waters mix with freshwater from rivers and streams.

EstuaryWatch data has already been used to track events such as fish deaths, blue green algae blooms, storm surges and floods.

Information collected by EstuaryWatch volunteers over these events has allowed estuary managers to better understand the estuaries they work with and assist them in communicating to members of the public what is happening in and around an estuary before during and after an event such as an algal bloom.

LorneCare volunteers have also been continually monitoring water quality at four locations along the Erskine River as part of the CCMA Waterwatch Program.

Location of sampling sites:

  • Two sites about 1.5km upstream from Lorne on either side of a gully feeding into the Erskine River from the site of the old Shire tip.
  • A third at the Erskine River Caravan Park
  • A fourth at the Swing Bridge

As well as monitoring estuaries and water quality, LorneCare also hold Working Bees on the third Sunday of each month at 10am focusing on weed removal and revegetation followed by a BBQ.

LorneCare volunteer helping on a Working Bee

EstuaryWatch will be conducting a Night Seminar Series “Estuaries Unmasked” held at the Lorne Leisure Centre, Stribling Reserve from 6.30 to 8.30pm on Thursday 11 October 2012.  During the afternoon there will also be Walk the River and Water Bug Discovery activities.

To become involved in the session or day activities please RSVP to CCMA at 5232 9100 or info@ccma.vic.gov.au, or to become involved in the LorneCare Working Bees look out for the information listed in the Lorne Independent and Echo newspapers.