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ANUSC Environmental Issues


As scuba divers, we not only have an interest in the marine environment but also a responsibility to protect it. The ANUSC has an environmental officer to keep us abreast of marine issues, compile club responses to proposals and coordinate activities, such as Clean Up Australia Day.

Activities & Events

      Invasive colonial sea squirt (Didemnum vexillum)
Invasive exotic colonial sea squirts are found in many places around the world but they have not been known to occur in Australia. These invasive pests can significantly impact marine infrastructure, natural habitats, biodiversity and aquaculture farms. One species of colonial sea squirt, Didemnum vexillum, has caused significant impacts in New Zealand and the USA. This species can be easily spread, and can attach to infrastructure such as wharves, pilings and boat ramps, as well as ropes and boats. It is known to overgrow and smother marine animals such as mussels and oysters. Didemnum spp. (exotic invasive strains only) are listed on the Consultative Committee on Marine Pest Emergencies (CCIMPE) Trigger List, and are pests of national concern.

In March 2010 a suspected incursion of the invasive colonial sea squirt D. vexillum was reported in Twofold Bay by divers undertaking an annual marine biota monitoring program survey for the Department of Defence. During this survey divers identified what they suspected to be D. vexillum on 15 wharf pilings at low prevalence on the multi-purpose wharf, however, I&I NSW scientists concluded that none of the sea squirts were invasive. I&I NSW researchers will continue to monitor suspicious sea squirts and other potential and known aquatic pests in NSW.

What can we do to stop the spread of aquatic pests?

Remain vigilant and report any animal or plant you think is unusual and may be a pest! Note its location (take GPS points if possible), take a photo if you can and immediately phone the I&I NSW aquatic pests 24 hour recorded hotline on 4916 3877 or email

Full article here: Posted 28.10.2010

      Watch the wobbies
Wobbegongs are benthic sharks that are commercially targeted in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Given a dramatic reduction of more than 50% in landed catch in a decade, there is a clear need to ensure that basic ecological data such as distribution and abundance are available for management use. Opportunistic sightings of wobbegongs collected by recreational scuba-divers were used to assess the distribution and relative abundance of wobbegongs in NSW. From July 2003 until January 2005, 304 dives were undertaken by recreational divers and 454 wobbegongs were reported. Larger numbers of wobbegongs were sighted in northern compared to southern NSW. Spotted and ornate wobbegongs were sighted in similar numbers, but species composition was highly variable across locations. Only a few juvenile and newborn spotted wobbegongs were sighted, whereas small ornate wobbegongs were mostly sighted north of central NSW. The latter were possibly the third, cryptic species, the dwarf ornate wobbegong. The paucity of sightings of small wobbegongs suggests that juveniles and newborns are inconspicuous to divers or that small wobbegongs are found in areas not visited by divers. Potential species and size segregation suggest that closing areas to fishing may enable populations to sustain current levels of commercial exploitation. The cost-effectiveness of using recreational scuba-divers to opportunistically collect distribution and relative abundance data was apparent from this study. However, the lack of spatial and temporal homogeneity in diving effort suggests that future studies should consider incorporating organized surveys and a facilitator, rather than using opportunistic records of sightings.

Posted 28.10.2010
      Snorkel Surveys-Volunteers Wanted!
Volunteers snorklers are wanted to work in teams two survey sites in Bateman's bay marine park, in Jan and May/June 2010. The work involves fish and invertebrate transects in teams, and involves training and some re-imbursement of equipment costs. Interested parties should contact Andrew Green ASAP. Posted 21.10.09. >more
      Tree planting events
A number of events are scheduled annually; these include Greening Australia events on Mother's Day and Father's Day. (View Greening Australia's calendar here; and click the "ACT" on the green bar for local events). National Tree Day is traditionally the first weekend in August.
      Clean Up weekends
The club participated in the NPA Keeper Clean-up weekend, on 19-20th September 2009 at Bawley Point. View the Clean-Up report.

The next clean-up event is Australia Day, 7 March 2010.

Read about Marine Rubbish on the Rise: Report (ABC Science, Oct 2009)

Things you can do

Check Environmental legislation for the areas in which you're diving.

Fish surveys
Courses through CoastKeepers and Reef Life Survey and can be arranged for those interested, however, it is expected that once qualified through these discounted courses, divers submit surveys regularly.

      Introduced species monitoring
Recently found in Australia is a pest sea slug, Spurilla neopolitana.
CoastKeepers is also interested in monitoring the introduced weed Caulerpa taxifolia
Also look out for this invasive sea-squirt on the South Coast.

      Grey Nurse Sharks
It's a privilege to dive with these shy animals - know and follow the Grey Nurse Shark code of conduct For general information on the Grey Nurse Shark and its conservation, visit Let Lucy Live! Divers can help in the research and conservation effort by sending in their photos of GNS to for identification and tracking of individuals. Carley Bansemer also researches the GNS and would appreciate quality images of individuals. A seminar at Fisheries Cronulla reported the current state of research. Disturbing evidence of deliberate fishing & fin removal of GNS here. Michael McFadyen presented the following summary at a SCAN meeting: GNS-Seminar-May2004.pdf.
Reports of Wobbegongs may also be of value (see article above).

      Fishing and Sustainable Seafood
Do you know if the seafood you buy is sustainably harvested? Were the harvesting practises environmentally sound? This nifty little guide will tell you, for $9.95 each or $25 for 3 (they make great gifts, too! Look out for their Christmas Pack). Australia's Sustainable Seafood Guide - Expanded edition, and free downloadable pocket guide.
Another good seafood selector website here, but the focus is northern-hemisphere.
Shark fin fishing and the GBR World Heritage area
      Environmentally supportive boating and diving practices
Coral friendly diving (Coral Reef Alliance).
Approach distances for marine mammals - NSW
Approach distances for marine mammals - Qld
30 Things You Can Do for the Marine Environment.

      Carbon-neutral diving
Petrol consumption travelling to dive sites can be offset through an emissions-offset program, such as Greenfleet.

Further environmental resources


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