|Oysters picked clean|
Oyster Watch was initiated as a result of the well recorded history of Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay's early ocean bounty. There is no doubt that European settlement brought disastrous changes for the oyster communities.
With the advent of Victoria's new marine parks a wonderful thing happened. Friends groups, local volunteers, appeared on the scene with the aim of supporting the new marine parks and keeping an eye on the health and well being of these special places. Scientists soon recognised the value of training volunteers to learn and record what they could about the marine environment to assist them in data collection. The volunteers generally find a proprietary interest building inside them to protect these special places as they learn.
Many citizen science programs span the Australian inshore and offshore coastline, ReefWatch, Reef Check, RedMap, SeagrassWatch, MangroveWatch, Marine Research Group and Divers Against Debris to name a few.
|Image from Victorian National Parks Association article Resurrecting reefs|
For many years now Victoria has been trying to turn that around. Just before the no-take marine parks and sanctuaries were declared the inter-tidal zone was designated as a protected area for oysters and other invertebrate animals with the exception of marine worms. At the seashore compliance to the law is very challenging.
Oyster Watch is a great new addition to our growing community awareness, data resource collection and positive action for the health of our coasts. Let's hope other places around Australia consider taking this idea on-board also.
See more about Oyster Watch at https://vnpa.org.au/programs/oyster-watch/