Location: Port Macquarie, Australia
PURG is an affiiliated project of Port Macquarie Landcare Inc...
PORT MACQUARIE LANDCARE STARTS MAKING WAVES
Donned in wetsuit, mask and fins, you haul on your scuba tank and place your regulator in your mouth. A camera in a waterproof housing is strapped to your wrist. You roll off the boat into the deep blue, make the okay and descend signals to your buddy and then you are ready. Ready for what? Ready for a working bee with Port Macquarie Landcare.
Did he say a working bee with Landcare? Yes he did. Landcare involves more than pulling weeds and planting native trees. Your Port Macquarie Landcare Group recognises that the underwater biodiversity of our area is just as important as that on land.
The Port Macquarie Marine Biodiversity Monitoring and Community Education Project is a project being delivered by a specialised group of Landcare members known as PURG (Port Macquarie Underwater Research Group).
PURG is ground-truthing the marine life of our region, literally in the wake of a seafloor mapping project by the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority. A boat conducts sonar mapping to determine the seafloors contours and tows a video camera to record the conditions a towed camera can cover greater distance but is far more difficult to control and find detail this is the role of the divers.
Its this sort of knowledge thats going to give us the baseline in the face of potential climate change, says Jai, unless we have good knowledge of whats there now, we wont be able to monitor invasive species. In only the second dive of the project, a species of nudibranch was found outside of its known range, fortunately, this is one of the good guys, but PURG is also out looking for invaders that can affect marine health.
The project is designed to involve the broader community. For example, under the tuition of head teacher, Warren Bridge, students of the Marine Studies Unit of Port Macquaries new campus of the Australian Technical College receive the data from the divers and analyse the species composition. You can also expect a series of seminars on marine issues and the future release of a poster and other educational material highlighting local marine life.
Our region has some top quality dive locations. The recently declared Cod Grounds Commonwealth Marine Reserve offshore from Camden Haven is a known aggregation site for Grey Nurse Sharks. This is one of the locations PURG is monitoring to observe changes amongst the sharks and other species following the areas protection. All divers are qualified and the project has the valuable support of local dive operators Scuba Haven and Ricks Dive Centre. The protection of areas such as this provides us with both a refuge for marine life and a sustainable ecotourism industry. As our regions population increases we can expect these underwater resources to come under more pressure and so it is vital now to document the plants and understand how to maintain them in good health.
We have great rivers and beaches, so remember
youre soaking in it! Surface-dwellers too can help by avoiding all forms of water pollution to the best extent possible, such as runoff down our stormwater drains, overuse of herbicides and fertilisers and allowing plastics make it to our waterways it all adds up. It ends in the marine environment, but it starts up top including our estuaries, towns and catchments.
With Port Macquarie Landcare and PURG on the lookout and us all doing our bit for water quality, we will keep our great waterways healthy.
If you are interested in getting involved in the PURG program, you can contact Jai Cooper on 0429 831 843.
Location: Mermaid Reef, Australia
first diary entry. Hope this works okay.
PURG divers today dived on Mermaid Reef off Diamond Head. I'll upload some photos and you're welcome to comment, particularly for species i.d. This is a bit of a trial to see how this format works. Planet Ranger is primarily set up as a travel page, but it's got an easy to use message board which everyone can view and doesn't need a log in or registration or elitist friends set up or anything like that. If anyone in the group has a better idea, then feel free to let me know and I can attempt using that format, but for now, here 'tis.
So go for it, enter comments, however inane, just to confirm that we are getting the idea of how to use the format. I'll put them up on display as soon as I log in next.
If you want better quality versions of these photos (they've been reduced), eg. you're from the media and you want to publish them, let me know which ones and I'll email the originals to you. As a project of Port Macquarie Landcare Inc., we're happy to have them published to promote awareness of marine biodiversity, a plug for PURG would be appreciated.
You can also go to this blog: http://au.blog.360.yahoo.com/purg2444 for more info on PURG's activities, eg. upcoming meetings, dives, etc. background stories.