Proposed Citizen Science Programme
 

The proposed citizen science projects are wide ranging but are intended to grow organically as areas of research are developed and results from one area lead into others. 

The proposed research programme is divided into two sectors; collaborative studies with DPI and independent studies possibly in collaboration with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, OEH and universities and individual researchers.
 

Proposed Collaborative Research with DPI and Marine Parks – to be discussed and agreed:

  • Seagrass studies: Monitor seagrass communities at selected sites in the port and offshore.  Ground truth for historical comparison and determine ground cover, epiphyte cover, blade, rhizome counts and depth of mat.  Identify and count key species in the seagrass communities and identify the role of the seagrass beds in the food chain that supports the dolphin population and recreational fishery in the port. Identify the effects of dredging and sedimentation on the seagrass beds in the port.  It is intended to affiliate with the Seagrass Watch and contribute to their efforts.

  • Visual Census of Grey Nurse Sharks and other Shark species on selected dive sites: Count number and species of sharks identified at each site and number of animals impacted by fishing gear.  Estimate length and maturity and identify and visual census of abundance of GNS prey fish available on site.  Replicate and compare data from historical studies and detect any seasonal changes in population.

  • Monitor sea urchin numbers and urchin barrens at rocky reefs/shark aggregation sites and elsewhere. Identify and monitor the status of Urchin predator species other potential grazers on the site and cover and density of macro algae on the sites.

  • Sedimentation in the Port deploy sediment traps at selected sites adjacent to seagrass beds and where the Karuah, Myall rivers and Tilligiry creek enter the port.
     

Independent Research initiatives, with the NPWS, OEH and Universities:

  • Dolphins: Photo identification surveys for population up date based on pervious studies. Document the population dynamics between the east and west port and interaction between the offshore pods and resident pods in the port.  Additional observations and counts will be carried out during these surveys on turtles and sea/shore birds.

  • Turtles: numbers, species and locations, injuries etc.  Encourage members of the public to report injuries, deaths and trapped animals.

 

Collaboration NPWS:- TBC
 

  • Seabird and shorebirds, identify changes in populations and other impacts number of birds impacted by fishing gear.

  • Seals, population dynamics in the area, photo identification surveys of individuals.

  • Marine Debris, collection and identification of quantity and type and affiliate with the Australian Marine Debris Initiative. May do beach profiles at selected beaches during marine debris surveys and collection.
     

Other possible areas of interest
 

  • Plankton Surveys:  Primarily to serve as an education tool, plankton dips and tows in selected areas so as to identify hot spots for various plankton and as a basis for food web studies. Educate the public, community and students about plankton and its importance in the eco-system. Show plankton through TV monitor microscope.

  • Voluntary recreational fishery surveys, involve local fishers to provide catch data, composition, weight length ration etc.

  • Socio economic surveys and perception studies of marine parks and the natural attributes of the area – will tourists pay a premium for a well managed sustainable product / destination ?

  • Destination Ports Stephens and Ports Stephens Council (TBC)

  • Support introduction of artificial reefs within the estuary as additional fish habitat.

 

Education and collaboration with schools and other community groups – sailing clubs, sea scouts, PCYC, other community groups etc.

Disseminate results from research activities into the community through these and other venues and encourage further participation from these groups in an effort towards achieving sustainable community based conservation goals.

 

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Photo courtesy of Ray Alley