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Changing Marine Postcodes

Posted on: December 14, 2012

Baldchin groper

Baldchin groper.

As the end of the year approaches many of us are on the move catching up with family and friends and embarking on travels over the summer break.

Spare a thought for our marine species that are potentially changing where they live in search of cooler waters, as seas become warmer with a changing climate.

The Redmap Australia website, also known as the ‘Range Extension Database and Mapping’ project was launched last week and invites potentially thousands of citizen scientists to contribute data that can help reveal whether fish are ‘shifting their range’.

We are seeking the assistance of a fishers and divers to report sightings and upload photos of marine life that aren’t usually found at their local fishing, diving and swimming  spots.

Redmap Australia is interested in reports of any marine life deemed uncommon along your particular stretch of the coast; and not just fish but also turtles, rays, lobsters, corals, seaweeds, urchins and prawns.  Photos are reviewed by a network of marine scientists around the country to verify the species identity and ensure high-quality data. Redmap Australia aims to become a continental-scale monitoring program along Australia’s vast coastline to help track marine range shifts; but also to engage Australians with marine issues using their own data.

Devotees of our lesson plan Acid Test may recall some links to the Redmap website. At the time we compiled the materials relating to ocean acidification, the Redmap project was only running in Tasmania by our enthusiastic colleagues at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies and University of Tasmania. Fast forward nearly two years and the Department of Fisheries is now the lead institute for Redmap in Western Australia so expect to see some more climate related teacher resources in 2013.

Each Redmap sighting is a piece in a puzzle that over time will reveal to the community, scientists and industry which species or regions may be experiencing greater changes in marine distributions. The sooner Australian fishers, divers and the public help gather this information, the better.  Some seas along the coast of Australia are warming at 3 to 4 times the global average.  Turning up the heat tends to stress marine ecosystems and species, and can impact fish growth, reproduction and behaviour.

Everyone can get involved by becoming a Redmap Australia registered member, signing up for our quarterly newsletter, liking us on Facebook, and importantly logging unusual marine animals at www.redmap.org.au.

Contribution to Redmap is easy as Spot, Log and Map.

Redmap is a large collaborative project led by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania, and involves the University of Newscastle, James Cook University, Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), Museum Victoria, Department of Fisheries Western Australia, the University of Adelaide and the South East Australia Program (SEAP).  The expansion of Redmap nationally was made possible with generous funding from an Australian Government Inspiring Australia grant, the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). Redmap also receives support from Mures Tasmania and many fishing, diving and community groups around the country.

What a Pest!

Posted on: November 19, 2012

Asian paddle crab.

Recently, an Asian paddle crab was captured in the Swan River by a recreational fisherman.  This species is not native to Western Australia however has the potential to establish itself here and become a pest.  It has the potential to spread disease and out-compete native species like the iconic blue swimmer crab.  To find out more about this species, click here.

Did you know… in Western Australian waters, there are 60 known non-native marine species that have become established.  However not all marine species introduced to a new area become pests.  Some are unable to survive the conditions of their new environment, whilst others are unable to reproduce and establish a viable population.

Check out the Marine WATERs Lesson Plan: Pest Control to learn more about marine pests found in Western Australia.  In Activity 1, students will learn the difference between native and introduced species and will investigate the problems associated with introduced species in the marine environment.  You may wish to use the Fisheries Fact Sheet: Introduced Marine Species to learn more about introduced species in the marine environment.

In Activity 4, students will use their knowledge of a specific introduced species to design a wanted poster to inform the community to look out for and report any sightings of the species.  You may wish to discuss the Asian paddle crab example used by the Department of Fisheries with your students to assists them in their design.  If you would like to investigate introduced marine species in more detail with your students, you may request a copy of the Department of Fisheries publication, Introduced Marine Species in Western Australia here.

Once your students are well versed on marine pests, challenge them to complete our Pest Line-Up game.  In each frame, students will be presented with three possible suspects, of which, one is a marine pest.  Using the information provided, students will need to determine which suspect is the pest to move on.         

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