The Coast Action/Coastcare Newsletter
ISBN 1329-0835 Edition 54
State Coordinator’s Message
By Matthew Fox, State Program Coordinator
It’s always a pleasure to welcome readers to the summer edition. Already the coast is buzzing with activity, with locals and visitors making the most of warmer weather.
On the subject of activity, 2010 has seen a great deal of community action on the coast, and this summer issue of Coastline showcases some of this effort. With more than 50 projects funded through the Coastcare Victoria grants program, and many others through Caring for our Country, regional NRM bodies and from within local community, the results are visible right along our coastline.
On the subject of funding, I am pleased to say that the Australian government’s Caring for our Country program has just announced further funding to enable DSE to continue the program in 2011, so stay tuned for announcements on this next year.
Warm weather also means that Summer by the Sea is just around the corner. For the past 17 years, DSE, with the support of volunteers and local experts, has hosted this statewide program. And so again in 2011 this festival of free coastal events will provide opportunities for us to celebrate our unique coastal environments.
Look for Summer by the Sea on Facebook and let us know your thoughts. We look forward to seeing you out and about in January.
Coast Action/Coastcare: Supporting Victoria’s Coastal Volunteers
Coast Action/Coastcare is a DSE program that supports local communities to contribute to the protection of Victoria’s coastal environment. The program promotes stewardship of our coast by supporting community action such as re-vegetation, protection of threatened species and community education. The program provides funding, training and advice to coastal volunteer groups right along the coast.
Coastline is published four times per year, including the annual Summer printed edition. To subscribe to Coastline or contribute an article, please contact your local facilitator.
To get involved with a coastal volunteer group please contact a Coast Action/Coastcare facilitator (contact details on Page 24).
Coast Action/Coastcare celebrates
seventeen Summers by the Sea
Megan Liddicoat, Department of Sustainability and Environment
Three hundred free events will be held in 80 locations to celebrate Victoria’s coast in the annual Summer by the Sea festival. Summer by the Sea gives Victorians the opportunity to discover and appreciate the natural wonders of Victoria’s coastal and marine environments.
The program promotes respect for the coast, environmental stewardship and participation in coastal conservation. Over 100,000 people have taken part in Summer by the Sea events over the past 16 years. Summer by the Sea has something for everyone, and all events are family friendly.
Activities include rockpool rambles, marine sanctuary snorkel safaris, fishing clinics, kayak tours, geology adventures and bird watching. Summer by the Sea provides opportunities to meet the Maremma dogs who guard little penguins. Try volunteering with Coastcare for a Day, board a boat tour, take a walk on the wild side, discover underwater bugs and get hands-on with marine monitoring. The activities run for the first three weeks of January 2011.
Bringing people a little closer to nature is what these activities are all about. Our coast is an incredibly rich and diverse place. Did you know, for instance, that our coast is home to two UNESCO biosphere reserves, five Ramsar wetlands, 18 wetlands of national significance and 24 marine protected areas? But our coast is under a lot of pressure. We hope that by building connections to coast we can help foster a spirit of stewardship over these natural assets.
Summer by the Sea is run by Coast Action/Coastcare with the ongoing support of volunteers and local experts.
Visit www.dse.vic.gov.au/summerbythesea for more information and to download a copy of this year’s program, or visit our page at Facebook at www.facebook.com/summerbythesea.
Blooming wildlife on Phillip Island
Phillip Island Nature Parks Education Department
The penguin breeding season is well underway by October and soon after that these birds begin laying eggs. The Philip Island Nature Park monitors over 300 burrows in study sites; of these, more than half of the burrows contain adults that are incubating eggs.
The carpark penguin chick program relocates chicks from burrows in hazardous areas and releases them into burrows in safer parts of the colony. The chicks require a small period of care in the wildlife hospital while they lose the last of their down and gain their distinctive blue waterproof plumage. It is hoped that, upon release, the birds will recognise the new burrows as their home and not return to the carparks.
Several adult penguins have been brought into the wildlife hospital this month, including one rescued from a mud-filled pit in the housing estate. This penguin required washing for several days to remove layers of hard clay-like mud. Several orphaned water birds have been brought into the hospital, including a Cape Barren goose gosling that is now thriving and maturing rapidly. A number of injured possums have also been treated by the rehab staff and released.
Short-tailed Shearwaters have been busily renovating their burrows after their long flight from the Aleutian Islands near Alaska. Their nightly sunset return is most spectacular through October. Other migratory birds, such as the eastern curlew and the bar-tailed godwits, are also returning to our shores around Western Port. Smaller waders, such as red necked stints, return in November.
Education on the Island
The Phillip Island Nature Park is a self-funded, not for profit organisation dedicated to the conservation of Phillip Island’s wildlife and natural features. The nature park, which is spread over 1805 hectares, includes four major tourist precincts (Penguin Parade, Koala Conservation Centre, Churchill Island and Nobbies Marine Centre), natural wildlife areas and the entire southern coastline.
Phillip Island Nature Park researches and protects numerous indigenous species on the island. Phillip Island Nature Parks Education Department will let your students see the latest research data and techniques or get themselves dirty planting trees, building new penguin homes or exploring wetlands.
We have a multitude of environmental programs to suit the needs of your subject. Most are tailored to accommodate middle secondary and senior VCE students, but if, as a primary school teacher, you particularly like the look of a particular talk, we can adapt it to your students’ level.
Phillip Island Nature Park Education Department
Phone 5951 2802, email email@example.com or look us up at www.penguins.org.au.
Shearwaters at night
Will climate change wipe out
giant kelp forests?
Graeme Stockton, Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment
Imagine you are in a forest and life is teeming all around you. The forest canopy stretches some 30 metres above you and as you look up into the filtered sunlight you see myriad life forms going about their daily business within the shelter of their forest home. This description might typically be associated with a tropical rainforest, yet this is also what you would find if you happened to be scuba diving in an area dominated by giant kelp (Macrocystis species).
Indeed, the first person to note the exceptional biodiversity associated with these kelp beds was Charles Darwin. In 1839 he proclaimed that ‘The number of living creatures of all orders, whose existence intimately depends on the kelp, is wonderful’.
Macrocystis is the Latin name for the large, brown, subtidal macroalgae otherwise known as kelp. Kelp’s cosmopolitan distribution is limited by its preference for cold and temperate oceans where surface temperatures range from zero to not more than 20°C, and where the intertidal substrate is either sandstone or rocky. This preference means that it won’t be found at Point Addis Marine National Park, where the substrate is of a calcarenite nature. However, sites such as Popes Eye, with its large bluestone boulders, provide the perfect habitat for M. angustifolia.
Although four species are recognised, further revision of the group’s taxonomy is likely, as all four are interfertile. In Australia, Macrocystis is confined to the southeastern parts of the mainland and Tasmania. This area of ocean is well documented for being extremely diverse and containing a high level of endemism. The two Macrocystis species (M. angustifolia and M. pyrifera) found here grow in shallow and deep water respectively, and consequently play a key role in providing shelter and food for literally hundreds of species.
Less well known is the fact that Macrocystis lives part of its lifecycle as swimming zoospores, and that in the latter stages of maturity a kelp forest is important in drawing down carbon dioxide concentrations within the water column.
Climate change, giant kelp and the marine environment
A strong body of evidence now suggests that Macrocystis is in decline along the southeast coast of Australia as well as globally. The reasons are complex and include a number of non-climatic factors, such as agricultural runoff, increased turbidity, pollution and the removal of some predators such as crayfish that feed on sea urchins that eat the kelp. More disturbing though is the decline associated with the El Niño southern oscillation (ENSO). Scientists believe that the more frequent ENSO phenomenon is driving warm tropical currents further south down the east coast of Australia, where higher than normal water temperatures, together with lower nutrient availability, has seen a crash in kelp populations, particularly in Tasmania.
The ramifications for Tasmania’s kelp forests and, indeed, the world’s oceans, are huge. Marine scientists say that globally, substantial impacts on marine life are already apparent. Distributions of fish, plankton and rocky shore intertidal species, for example, are all shifting polewards in the north Atlantic, while the timing of Antarctic seabird breeding and peek migration dates are also shifting. In Australia, tropical and temperate phytoplankton are moving southwards off eastern Australia.
The oceans are providing many indicators that demonstrate the system is under stress. The question is: Are we listening?
Map one: Global distribution of giant kelp
Protecting our seas and shores
Michaela Farrington, Victorian National Parks Association
The saying goes that you protect what you love. To help even more people fall in love with Victoria’s magnificent marine environment, Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) has launched a new underwater website, a new coastal field guide and a detailed scientific review of the state’s marine environment.
The new website, Explore Underwater Victoria, gives visitors the chance to dive beneath the waves of Victoria’s coastal waters and discover some of the state’s hidden marine treasures. Developed with support from Museum Victoria and Reef Watch Victoria, the website includes information about and contacts for marine and coastal community groups, as well as a great collection of underwater photographs, videos and educational resources. Coast Action/Coast Care, together with Port Phillip and Westernport CMA and the Australian government’s Caring for our Country, provided funding for the site.
The recent website launch coincided with the release of a new edition of the classic field guide, Life on the Rocky Shores, which we hope will inspire a new generation of rockpool ramblers and beachgoers.
The book and website launch came hot on the heels of VNPA’s detailed scientific report on conservation issues and priorities for Victoria’s marine environment, which confirmed what many coastal volunteers already know: our seas and shores are under pressure as never before and urgently need our help.
A team of independent marine ecologists spent two years preparing the report for VNPA. Two of the most significant issues they identified in their report are gaps in our knowledge of Victoria’s marine environment, and gaps in the state’s current system of marine national parks and sanctuaries.
If we are to properly protect our remarkable underwater wonderlands, we need to fill these gaps. Victoria urgently needs a comprehensive statewide scientific investigation of our marine environment, and needs better protection for important marine and coastal habitats. Victoria’s current system of marine national parks, established in 2002, was an excellent start; however, many important areas remain unprotected.
The idea of expanding Victoria’s marine national park network is controversial, particularly among some recreational anglers who see sanctuaries in terms of lost fishing grounds rather than as an opportunity to protect biodiversity and habitats and, potentially, to boost fishing stocks.
But among the wider community there is overwhelming support for sanctuaries. A state government funded survey of community attitudes shows that 92 per cent of people supported marine national parks.
Strong scientific evidence from Australia and around the world indicates that marine national parks work. Despite this, both major political parties have ruled out new marine national parks for Victoria in the next term of government, and anti-marine park groups are calling for a moratorium on marine parks.
VNPA is continuing to campaign for better protection for our seas and shores through scientific study, habitat protection and other strategies. We hope that as more people come to know and love these remarkable environments, they too will take action to help our underwater world.
To find out more about the VNPA’s marine work, order a copy of Life on the Rocky Shores or find a
link to the Explore Underwater Victoria website at
Inhabitants of Victoria’s coastal waters
Update on the hood
Grainne Maguire, Birds Australia
The little hoodies started breeding very late this year. Erratic weather and high tides have meant that most pairs were biding their time until conditions were right. A few stable days of sunny weather in October triggered many of the birds to start courting – the females waving their tails in the air, the males standing tall and dancing on their toes with their chests puffed out. Our state’s most illustrious breeders, the pair at Point Roadknight, already have three chicks well on their way to flying age and are set to contribute the first young to the population this season.
This will be the fifth breeding season that the Birds Australia Beach-nesting Birds project runs; with funding secured from Caring for our Country and the Victorian Investment Framework, the future looks bright for these birds.
In Victoria there are over 250 volunteers who contribute to the project. Some take part in the Biennial Count every two years, when the ocean beaches of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales are walked by volunteers, rangers and agency staff to count our eastern mainland population of hooded plovers. Other volunteers have adopted their own pair of hoodies and become very attached to them as they observe the birds’ intriguing behaviours and learn the traits of their individual birds.
In reporting nests so that they can be protected and given a chance of surviving among the hoards of beach users, these volunteers play a vital role.
Then there are the more sociable volunteers who chat to beach users to make them aware of the birds’ needs. We still have a long way to go before everyone is aware but we are getting there and the birds are benefiting. Last year we doubled the number of chicks surviving on our coast.
Birds Australia needs more volunteers, especially on the Mornington Peninsula and around Warrnambool and Port Fairy, where most of Victoria’s hoodies can be found.
If you can help, contact Grainne Maguire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember: keep an eye out for signs on the beach this summer, and if there are breeding hoodies, give them space to raise a family.
Hooded Plover sporting a new band
There are plenty more fish in the sea … or are there?
Wendy Roberts, Reef Watch Victoria
Scuba divers and snorkelers are once again preparing to explore Victoria’s kelp forests, seagrass meadows and sponge gardens as part of the Great Victorian Fish Count.
The annual census of reef fish, which runs from 4 December until 19 December, is being coordinated by Reef Watch Victoria, a program that encourages divers to monitor and care for marine life at their favourite dive sites.
The initiative is funded by the federal government’s Caring for our Country program.
Reef Watch coordinator Wendy Roberts said that the state’s coastal reefs were home to many beautiful fish that are found nowhere else in the world. Many of the fish we count are as uniquely Australian as the koala, and just like the koala they have favourite habitats in which they prefer to live. Some, such as the wrasses and morwongs, can be found living at the same reef for many years.
The census will be conducted at 20 sites along the coast from Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary at Cape Conran to Lee Breakwater in Portland, and including many sites within Port Phillip Bay.
Ms Roberts said that dive operators and Friends Groups of Marine National Parks and Sanctuaries had received a lot of interest from people wanting to take part in the fish census.
‘More and more people are taking a real interest in fish watching, including school groups who love the idea of counting fish as an end of year school activity’, Ms Roberts said.
‘It’s great, because their efforts are highlighting the significance of Victoria’s reef fish populations, the need for conservation efforts and providing valuable insights into a world very few of us explore.’
For more information on the GVFC or Reef Watch Victoria visit www.reefwatchvic.asn.au
phone 03 8341 7446.
Surf Coast marine debris initiative
Heidi Taylor, Tangaroa Blue
The threat of debris to the marine environment is well documented, but ways to stop the never-ending flow of plastics into our marine environment have been hard to find, implement and enforce. So we are left with mitigation strategies that involve the removal of debris from the coastline to prevent it from being washed back into the ocean rather than finding ways of stopping it from getting there in the first place.
This was a major reason that the National Marine Debris Initiative was created by Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society and Surfrider Foundation Australia. With the help of a Caring for our Country government grant, the latest location for the project to be implemented is along the Victorian coastline.
The project will look at what opportunities exist or can be created for the community to become involved in learning more about marine debris through workshops and presentations; it will also invite the community, businesses and agencies to participate in beach clean up events at which information on what is impacting the Victorian coastline will be documented, and then submitted into the National Marine Debris database.
Some dates to remember
8 December 2010
Sign up as a beach clean up volunteer or learn more about marine debris at our display at the Village Green at Jack Johnson’s Melbourne concert.
For more information contact Heidi Taylor on
0410 166 684 or email email@example.com.
27 January 2011
Cosy Corner Torquay Beach Clean Up – meeting at 6pm in the carpark. For more information contact John Foss on 0408 386 812 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you can’t make it to one of these events,
check out all the information at
www.oceancare.org.au and get a group of friends together to run your own beach clean up event. We will provide all materials, volunteer insurance and logistical support; we will also help with promotion.
Everyone can make a difference and our marine environment will thank you.
Marine debris comes in all shapes and sizes
The Jack and Albert River
Restoration Project (JARR)
Bruce Atkin, Department of Sustainability and Environment
Improving the health of South Gippsland’s Jack and Albert River catchment – from the cool temperate rainforest of the Strzelecki Ranges to the Ramsar wetlands of Nooramunga and Corner Inlet – is the aim of a catchment to coast project known locally as JARR.
Created originally by the Madalya, Binginwarri and Albert River Landcare groups, the JARR project enables all interested parties to learn from each other and strategically plan works across the entire catchment. Within the catchment are extensive areas of farming and forestry land, where problems such as erosion and weed invasion continue to provide challenges for land managers. Six Landcare groups are now involved. The management committee includes representatives from these six, as well as from the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA), Parks Victoria, HVP and DSE’s Coastcare program. The committee meets quarterly to monitor the progress of the various projects.
A key component is the Biodiversity Blueprint, which is funded by the Norman Wettenhall Foundation. Specific onground works nominated in the Blueprint by Landcare groups will commence in the near future. Funding for these works comes from a number of sources, including Wellington Shire Council and the WGCMA.
JARR is also developing comprehensive flora and fauna brochures to encourage familiarisation and best practice in the battle to enhance diversity and assist local endangered species. Coastcare funding is being utilised to assist with this aspect of the JARR project.
Check out the project website at www.jarrproject.com, where the Spatial Vision interactive mapper is ready to be used to record flora and fauna sightings and map onground work. Just follow the link from the JARR website.
For further information contact committee chair Helga Binder at email@example.com.
Habitat Network East Gippsland
Jemma Crawford, DSE
Are you interested in what’s going on in East Gippsland? Do you often wonder what events are happening in your local area that you could be involved with? Well, check out www.hneg.org.au and wonder no more.
Habitat Network East Gippsland was set up by volunteers to be an easily accessible site that contains links to local friends, community and coast action groups. It provides contact details for groups, so you can easily become a member. As well as relevant policy and news articles, the site also contains calls for volunteers, working bee information, details of local conferences and, most importantly, a calendar specifying dates for all of these events. It also contains links to details about grant money that is available to groups, including the Coastcare Victoria Community Grants program and the latest editions of everyone’s favourite magazine, Coastline.
If your group is situated in East Gippsland and is not currently a member, then get online and fill in a membership form. That way you’re working bees and meetings can also be posted for all to see and attend.
If you don’t currently belong to a group but still want to help out on the odd occasion, this is a great way of keeping informed of projects that you might be interested in helping with.
From Granite Gully to Sunshine Reserve
Gill Gordon, Sunshine Reserve Conservation and Fireguard Group
Until the 1880s, before it became land for housing, Sunshine Creek was once part of the Hearn Sheep Station. A nearby quarry saw the area dubbed Granite Gully. Vegetation was removed for use in kilns at Fossil Beach and for firewood in Melbourne. World War II trenches, dug in the 1940s, are still evident there today. Holiday homes sprung up in the 1950s but today most are permanent residences. In 1997, when a group of 12 local residents banded together to combat fear of fire and the potential sale of the land, the Sunshine Reserve Conservation and Fireguard Group Inc. was formed. The group received advice from and grant funding through Coast Action/Coastcare to remove dense thickets of blackberry and other weeds.
During the ensuing 13 years, the group has undertaken a huge amount of biodiversity protection, fire management works and community education to help residents understand that by conserving environmental elements they contribute significantly to reduced fire risk. They have worked incredibly hard to eliminate environmental threats in the reserve, which is now an outstanding example of bushland restoration and an important wildlife corridor.
When the group first began, some fauna species numbers were down to single figures. This year the birds are back in force – yellow tailed black cockatoos, rufus wrens, bastian thrush, yellow robins, flocks of finches, blue scrub wrens, tawny frogmouths and kookaburras. Long-necked turtles, seven species of bat, the agile antichinus and sugar gliders regularly visit the reserve. Butterflies love the native grasses, swamp rats build huge burrows and native birds now travel to nearby gardens where residents have planted indigenous vegetation.
Mornington Peninsula Shire (MPS) works closely with the group. Using controlled burns, weeding and other works that contribute to the health of the reserve, MPS has developed fire prevention strategies to minimise any damage from unplanned fires.
Ten years after original flora surveys were taken, previously unrecorded species were observed. Works in the reserve illustrate how well biodiversity and fire management activities can work when planned together.
Transforming the landscape
Fairhaven Community Coastal Forum – Making connections for the coast
Jess Brown, Department of Sustainability and Environment
On a sunny day in late August, 40 people gathered at the Fairhaven Surf Life Saving Club to attend the Surf Coast Community Forum for Coastal Volunteers, a partnership project between Coast Action/Coastcare, the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee and the Otway Coast Committee.
People came from near and far, including many keen volunteers spanning the coast from Breamlea to Princetown, as well representatives from Surf Coast Shire, Parks Victoria, Corangamite CMA, Otway Coast Committee and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee.
Local coastal expert and long-term volunteer Margaret Macdonald presented a case study on the productivity and benefits of building partnerships with other volunteer groups and agencies to deliver projects. Graeme Stockton, from Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment (SANE), gave a historical overview of the incredible successes of SANE at Bells Beach Surfing Reserve over the last 20 years. Gail Chrisfield from the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee inspired attendees to try social media as a way of strengthening connectivity between groups and idea sharing.
Key issues discussed include group succession planning, motivating youth to be interested in volunteering, access to funding and the provision of consistent messages from land managers.
With the help of event facilitator Geoff Brown and some frolicking southern right whales (who set up camp for the day in front of the venue), participants enjoyed a successful day and laid the foundations for future collaboration of the kind that only occurs when like-minded folk come together.
A short YouTube clip on the event can be seen at DSE’s You Tube site at www.youtube.com/DSEVictoria
Cate from Ocean Grove Coastcare takes the initiative
Clonard College takes Swan Bay to Caloundra
Georgia Keam, Bec Maher and Alanah Scacco, Clonard Collage
Earlier this month, 10 students from Clonard College flew to Caloundra to present a workshop at the International Youth Coastal Conference.
This program encourages students to become informed on environmental issues, and then share what they have learnt with other young people at the event and again in their local communities.
The three of us applied to be presenters and chose to run some hands on activities on the impact humans are having on the Swan Bay ecosystem. We felt that this would be a great choice as this area is of great ecological significance as a marine national park, fish nursery and a Ramsar site.
We spent time with Phil Amarto from the Marine Discovery Centre who acted as our mentor and provided us with specific knowledge of the Swan Bay environment and the issues concerning it.
We used this information about local species to create two different activities, one about food webs and the consequences of messing with the system, the other a fishing game that would familiarise other kids with some of the endangered organisms, such as the orange bellied parrot in Swan Bay. We also discussed the ecological issues faced due to human impact.
We learnt so much from this experience. It was a great opportunity to teach others about an area of significance to us and that we are immensely concerned about. Presenting to other students gave us a really rewarding feeling. We are very proud of what we achieved.
We hope to continue doing work in the Swan Bay area, to expand our school involvement in coastal conservation work and to improve signage to educate fishers about the difference between the 11 native species of armed seastar and the introduced northern Pacific seastar.
We are very thankful for the opportunity Kids Teaching Kids has given our group.
Planet Days transform the Surf Coast
Jo Ludbrook, Department of Sustainability and Environment
Surf Coast Inland Plains Network has recently coordinated the Planet Days revegetation project in partnership with Rip Curl, the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, Parks Victoria and Surf Coast Shire. Local community groups, who turned up in force, included representatives from Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment, Friends of Point Addis, Breamlea Coast Action, Jan Juc Coast Action and Torquay Coast Action.
Nine sites were revegetated across 20 kilometres of public land along the Surf Coast, with more than 15,000 plants planted and many weeds removed. The 400 participants included more than 200 Rip Curl employees, who worked on the project over two days.
Torquay Coast Action Group member Glenda Shomaly said partnership projects are getting stronger every year.
‘Our group greatly appreciates all the help we get from Rip Curl, the primary schools and local community groups. So much can be achieved when many hands get busy and much enthusiasm is shared.’
Funding for the project was made available through Coast Action/Coastcare’s Coastcare Victoria Community Grants, which is supported by the Australian government’s Caring for our Country NRM investment program.
For further information on this exciting initiative, contact Joanne Ludbrook at DSE’s Geelong office.
Rip Curl employees meet the paparazzi
Locals research mangroves in Kenya
Lisa Mills and Rowan MacKenzie
Alcoa Anglesea environmental scientist Lisa Mills, and Surf Coast Shire manager, Environment and Community Safety, Rowan Mackenzie have recently returned from volunteering on a coastal mangrove research project in a remote community in southern Kenya.
Lisa and Rowan successfully applied to receive an Alcoa Earthwatch Fellowship and so were sponsored by the Alcoa Foundation to undertake important research in Kenya.
Lisa and Rowan headed off to Gazi Bay in southern Kenya for three weeks in August to participate in the Tidal Forests of Kenya expedition.
The team of five Alcoa employees, two community fellows and five Kenyan scientists conducted important research into the carbon cycle in mangroves and how these ecosystems might be used to sequester carbon and help mitigate climate change.
Additional objectives included mangrove reforestation in order to sustain the supply of mangrove wood for local construction and firewood, the protection of mangroves as fishery nurseries for the local fishery industry and the provision of an opportunity for community involvement in local mangrove conservation projects.
Lisa reflected: ‘I didn’t have any expectations before I left as I knew very little about Kenya or mangroves; however, the experience was more than I could have ever hoped for.
I could see the relevance of the research to climate change and what very simple solutions mangroves can provide locally in Kenya.
Additionally, I was heartened to see the host of positive side effects caused by this Earthwatch project, including community involvement and conservation of local resources. It was obvious how proud the local villagers were of this project and what a positive effect it has had on their lives. It is definitely an experience that I will never forget.
I hope to use some of the experiences I had in Kenya to change my life at home in a positive way, including simplifying life and being happy with what we have.’
Rowan added that ‘The best part of the Tidal Forests of Kenya Project was definitely getting to know the other Earthwatch fellows, Gazi Bay scientists and villagers. However, the beautiful tidal forests, white sandy beaches, tropical climate, great food and palm trees were not bad either.
I have been inspired that projects can start small, but if they genuinely seek to meet the interests of the community, business and the environment, then they can grow into really substantial and important programs that can influence people from across the world.
I am extremely grateful to Alcoa for this experience and I hope that it can continue for other staff and community members.’
Rowan Mackenzie gets among
the mangroves of Kenya
Orchids bloom at Anglesea
Margaret MacDonald, ANGAIR
This year’s increased rainfall has had a remarkable effect on the ground orchids, which have relished the conditions. In September we were thrilled to find the swamp helmet orchid (Corybas fordhamii) and the lizard orchid (Burnettia cuneata) flowering in the burnt peat area of the Anglesea River – these two species had not been seen since just after the 1983 fires. Spider orchids have appeared in large numbers throughout the district, and the Anglesea endemic species, the Angahook caladenia (Caladenia maritima), has had the most flowers since we started surveying in 2001 – 588 orchids were counted this year. On the other hand, due to the lack of sunshine, the sun orchids have been slow to develop and open. Many have just self-pollinated, so we will have to wait another year to admire them.
Swamp helmet orchid
A quick roundup on the action at Capel Sound Beach
Mick Tonkin, manager, Capel Sound Foreshore Committee of Management
Rosebud Secondary College Learn to Live
There’s a lot been happening at Capel Sound Beach recently. Rosebud Secondary College’s Learning for Living program took place on Capel Sound foreshores. Over the five days of this program, 250 students and teachers were involved in covering environmental issues, revegetation, land management and the planting of 5000 indigenous plants throughout Capel Sound foreshores. The students removed weeds, spread mulch, and then, with the help of rangers and local environmentalist Norman McKinlay, planted native grasses, shrubs and trees.
At a sausage sizzle in the camp kitchen after a hard morning of work, students were introduced to the Indigenous culture and history of the area and held discussions on local flora and fauna and strategies to protect sensitive areas of coastline. Capel Sound hopes to continue these programs and already has other local schools involved in similar environmental projects.
Leopard Seal pays a visit
Strange visitors have been making the most of Capel Sound beach lately. Leopard seals have recently used the facilities to rest, after dealing with rough seas. One rather tired leopard seal decided that Capel Sound beach would be a nice place for a nap, which caused a lot of concern among walkers, so much so that the police were called to investigate this leopard seal’s sleeping arrangement.
Leopard seals, named for their black-spotted coats, are, like their feline namesakes, fierce predators. They have long bodies (3–3.5 metres), elongated heads and are formidable hunters that live in frigid Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters where they eat fish, squid, birds, penguins and other smaller seals. If you find a leopard seal while walking always give it wide berth as they have strong jaws, are quite quick on land and can be aggressive.
Norm McKinlay lends a hand
Moolapio Coastal Field Day
During September the Moolapio project hosted a successful Coastal Field Day, which was funded by the Caring for our Country federal government grant. The field day highlighted the valuable saltmarsh community that surrounds Point Henry and the importance of the flora and fauna found within this ecosystem. Two local expert ecologists, Sue Longmore from the Bellarine Catchment Network and Trevor Pescott from the Geelong Field Naturalists, provided informative guided talks through the saltmarsh area. Sue Longmore showcased the different flora species found within the saltmarsh community and the importance of this area in providing a link to the larger Port Phillip Bay Western Shoreline and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar sites. Trevor Pescott provided a photographic display of the different bird species that would likely inhabit or migrate to the area, which was followed by a bird watching walk.
Joanne Ludbrook from Coastcare made a presentation to the group that highlighted coastal management issues and funding structures, and opportunities for community groups and landholders. Despite a somewhat wintery day, around 35 participants from a broad sector of the community enjoyed themselves, and were kept warm by a hot lunch.
The Moolapio project is a partnership between Greening Australia and Alcoa Australia. The project focuses on conserving, enhancing and restoring the flora and fauna of the Point Henry area, along with the reestablishment of an open grassland ecosystem utilising broad scale techniques.
Sea Searching in the mangroves
Jacqui Pocklington, Sea Search
Sea Search has been busy of late, undertaking a pilot mangrove monitoring program in Westernport Bay with the support of a Caring for our Country Coastcare grant.
Mangroves are found extensively in Westernport Bay, where they form part of a significant Ramsar site for migrating shorebirds. Many years ago mangroves were cut down for timber and their roots were burnt to produce ash that was used in the manufacturing of soap. In many areas where this occurred the damage still remains and erosion is a common problem. Because mangroves assist in stabilising sediment and improving water clarity, it is thought that the large amounts of sediment that is now present in Westernport can be attributed to the loss of them.
Mangroves are the only marine tree with special air breathing roots, called pneumatophores, and thick waxy leaves. They offer roosting areas for birds and bats, and their roots and lower branches provide a complex habitat for fish and invertebrates. During low tide it is common to see wading birds feeding on the mud flats at the seaward side of the mangroves, where small crabs and sea snails are abundant (on a recent trip to Churchill Island, Sea Searchers wondered if a very hungry ibis would be able to fly away after its seemingly endless buffet). Sea Searchers have been travelling all around Westernport, recording indicators of mangrove health such as pneumatophore shape, tree canopy cover, algal epiphytes, invertebrates, insect damage, flowering and seeding times, and the presence of saltmarsh. Along with the already existing photo records of each site, we hope to also build up a seasonal picture of mangrove health in Westernport that will enable us to detect any deterioration and aid the management of this special bay.
To get involved, go to www.peopleandparks.org/programs/marine-connections/sea-search.
Mangroves showing pneumatophones
Volunteer committee oversees
completion of major works
Angie Gutowski, DSE
The final inspection of major improvement works on the Franklin River wall took place at Port Franklin recently. Works to raise the level of a 170 metre section of wall by 600 millimetres involved supply and fitting of extension blocks and safety rail, reconnection of jetties and refurbishment of the pathway.
The work was planned and overseen by the volunteer Port Franklin Public Purposes and Recreation Reserve Committee of Management, whose members worked with the contractor and supervised the works on a daily basis for all of the stages.
President George Howes said that it is great to get the works done. ‘In 2008 the committee talked to the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) about the flooding problem in this section that was happening at least twice per month. The committee put in an application under the Coastal Risk Mitigation Program and DSE provided funding (of) $171,255.’
The completion of this project finalises the river wall restoration project. Sections of river wall totalling 570 metres in length were replaced between 1997 and this year.
Leanne Khan, Coasts and Biodiversity Officer with DSE, coordinated the development of a study on the impacts of climate change as well as the contract documents for the project. ‘The Committee should be justly proud of what it has achieved with this project over the last 13 years. This is a fantastic result’, she said. ‘Thirteen years ago, throughout the port, a rotting timber wall was allowing the bank to slump into the river, and access to boats was via a series of hazardous and primitive jetties.’
George said that even though the main wall work has been completed and inspected, ‘the committee still has some minor works to do. There is some track work, landscaping and revegetation that needs to be finished.’
Contractor Rod Thomas, DSE’s Leanne Khan, Engineer Doug Oldfield and Committee President George Howes at the final wall inspection
Making the most of Coast to Coast
Phillip Wierzbowski and Stephen Walsh, Department of Sustainability and Environment Box Hill
Coast to Coast is Australia’s only national coastal management conference. Every two years those with an interest in coastal matters meet to share knowledge on coastal management, science and policy.
The 2010 Coast to Coast conference was held in September in Adelaide, and was attended by community organisations, all levels of government, universities, and the private sector.
Victoria was well represented: Phillip Wierzbowski, Coast Action/Coastcare facilitator, and Stephen Walsh, Indigenous Facilitator, were two of the speakers from the Department of Sustainability and Environment. Stephen and Phil presented findings from the ‘Managing Country Together Coastal Forum’ in November 2008. This event brought together coastal managers and traditional owners for the first time to discuss coastal management. The presentation generated much interest on how Victorians are managing country together. The next Managing Country Together gathering will be hosted by Melbourne Water in February 2011, and an announcement about which state will be hosting Coast to Coast 2012 is due soon.
For further information on the Coast to Coast 2010 conference in Adelaide, go to
Coxy’s Big Summer Break
On 5 December 2010 at 5:30pm, Summer by the Sea will be featured on Channel 7’s Coxy’s Big Break! Coxy’s travel show is a source of information on great things to do in Melbourne and Victoria. This episode will take us to St Kilda, where we meet Bay Keeper Neil Blake to learn more about the challenges of managing an urban stretch of coastal environment.
Go to www.dse.vic.gov.au/summerbythesea for more Summer by the Sea information.
Neil Blake, Baykeeper, and the crew of Coxy’s Big Break
Release of Victorian Coastal Acid Sulfate Soils Guidelines
Rose Waters, Department of Sustainability and Environment
Coastal acid sulfate soils (CASS), which occur naturally along Victoria’s coasts and estuaries, are harmless if not disturbed. It’s when CASS are exposed to air that they become an problem: they become acidic, which has an impact on the environment, economy and health.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment has just released the Victorian Best Practice Guidelines for Assessing and Managing Coastal Acid Sulfate Soils.
These guidelines aim to help protect the environment, humans and infrastructure from harmful CASS impacts. With a focus on avoiding disturbance, they guide landowners, developers, planners and decision makers through a risk identification process to assess and manage CASS risk.
For downloadable information on the guidelines, go to www.dse.vic.gov.au/coasts
For a hard copy, email Rose Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you seen this seaweed at your beach?
Luke Hynes, Southern Otway Landcare Network
Japanese kelp, Undaria pinnatifida, is a serious marine pest that has invaded Apollo Bay harbour. Moves to eradicate this species from the harbour are currently being investigated; however, monitoring of Japanese kelp outside the harbour is vital to prevent any more infestations occurring. Even though this species dies back over the summer, it can still be carried on ocean currents during this period.
If you see this species in the water or washed up on beaches please note the location and contact the Southern Otway Landcare Network (03) 5237 6904 or email@example.com. If possible, take
a photo of the kelp for identification.
News from the Coast Action/Coastcare facilitator team
Warrnambool Marty Gent
It’s a great time of year for birds in the far southwest. Hooded plover counts are in full swing; volunteers from Killarney Coastcare have spotted 13 pairs so far, some that have already laid eggs and one clutch that has already hatched. Warrnambool Coastcare Landcare Group continues to have success with the Maremma dog project, with a bumper penguin count last week. Over 100 penguins were counted – and it’s just the beginning of the season.
Warrnambool Coastcare Landcare group recently celebrated 15 years of incorporation. On the night of the anniversary, the group celebrated the hard work and dedication of three of the hardest working committee members in the history of Coastcare, all of whom have now stepped down: Frank Wiggins and Ann Park stepped down as treasurer and secretary respectively, and the exceptional Don McTaggart has also stepped down after many years of enthusiastic and inspirational leadership. The new committee is well equipped and well supported and I have no doubt that the group will continue to set an example in how volunteers can get involved in coastal management and have lots of fun doing so.
Eastern Otway Update Tracey Pennington
As we come into summer, the pair of hooded plovers nesting at Anglesea’s Point Roadknight has three chicks! Even more remarkable is the news from Parks Victoria Ranger Richard Fossett that the first nesting pair of hoodies at Point Addis beach has been recorded. Further west, the Otway Coast Committee reports nests at Barham River and Wild Dog Creek. Anglesea Primary School’s Plover Lover group is now in its second year. Teacher Fleur Kukler has presented Coast Action/Coastcare and Parks Victoria with nine plover chick shelters made by the group, with the assistance of the Anglesea Men’s Shed. Well done, Plover Lovers!
The 1.2 kilometre pedestrian path between Apollo Bay and Wild Dog Creek is now completed and receiving plenty of use. This popular path was constructed by the Otway Coast Committee of Management at a cost of $120,000, with 30 per cent of the funding support secured through each of Rural Development Victoria and the Federal Stimulus Package. Foreshore manager Gary Mc Pike said the committee had received lots of positive verbal and written feedback from the local community – a great outcome for all concerned.
Members of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet Society for Protection of Flora and Fauna (ANGAIR Inc.) report an excellent season for orchids in the National Heritage listed Anglesea heathlands, with appearances from some species not seen in the area for some time.
Surf Coast and Bellarine Update Joanne Ludbrook
The Bellarine and Surf Coast groups have made significant contributions to coastal protection over the past few months. Recent activities include the successful Jan Juc Gazania Weed Whacking Day and BBQ at Bird Rock, and the Rip Curl Planet Days which saw planting from Point Impossible to Point Addis connect the natural values of this section of coast. This event also saw some serious networking, as students from St Therese Primary School, Rip Curl employees, coastal land managers and coastal community groups all came together. Nearby, the Torquay Coast Action has been busy planting on the Surf Coast Walk, while at Ocean Grove, keen locals have formed the brand new Ocean Grove Coastcare group. Friends of the Hooded Plovers across the Bellarine and Surf Coast are out and about checking early nesting sites, while Friends of Buckley Park, Bellarine Coastal Network, Breamlea Coast Action and Barwon Coast are all busy protecting Moonah Woodland communities.
For more information about any of these actions, contact Joanne Ludbrook at DSE Geelong.
Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Update Denis Cox
Wayan Oka (‘Oka’), a teacher from Nusa Penida, Bali, is in Australia on a teacher exchange program sponsored by XL Foundation and Friends of the National Parks Foundation (FNPF). In his homeland Oka is involved in activities to help protect the threatened Bali starling, but while visiting he is
helping to promote FNPF’s activities on Nusa Penida, and in the Cardinia Creek wildlife
corridor. In the Westernport area, Oka has talked with enthusiasm to local schools on
matters on conservation, wildlife corridors and conservation education.
The Harewood Nature Guide, which was published with the assistance of Coast Action/
Coastcare, provides some much needed information on the natural history of the
Western Port region for students and local residents.
The new Grantville Foreshore Committee recently attended a plant identification day
run by Coast Action/Coastcare as part of the learning process that will assist them in
the task of creating the management
plan for the reserve they now manage.At Warneet, the loss of natural reed and
coastal grasses, previously a
barrier that had lasted many years, meant that the roots of large trees were at risk of
being undermined. Coir logs have been installed and have proven to be an effective method of controlling estuarine erosion.
And finally, heartfelt thanks to Paul Le Page for his efforts with the Balnarring Foreshore Committee of Management. We welcome to Mark Dunball who steps into the role.
East Gippsland Update Jemma Crawford
As summer kicks in this year, things will normalise in East Gippsland: your regular facilitator, Jeremy Neilson, is returning from holidays. I’ll be staying on until the end of January, so if groups would like to discuss any upcoming projects or funding email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve had a very interesting two months in the facilitator role, and have worked hard to meet most of the active groups in the area. Everyone has been very welcoming and I’d like to thank you all for that. I would also like to acknowledge the Friends of Gippsland Lakes for ‘Around the Edge with FOGL’, the artwork they produced in conjunction with the East Gippsland Art Gallery. Artwork is a great way to reach the wider community about getting involved with the environment, so well done on a terrific project.
And now, everybody get ready for an action packed summer, and enjoy your summer by the sea.
Calendar of events
4, 11, 18 DecemberSummer snorkelling at Rickets Point Marine Sanctuary, Beaumaris Life Saving Club,
Melways 86 C9 for directions; email Phillip.Wierzbowski@dse.vic.gov.au.4–19 DecemberGreat Victorian Fish Count For more information on the GVFC or Reef Watch Victoria,
visit www.reefwatchvic.asn.au or email email@example.com DecemberDolphin Research Centre’s i Sea i Care program South Gippsland, includes seagrass kayaking activities for primary school kids.21 DecemberPort Phillip fossil site – presentation by Professor John Buckeridge. Beaumaris Life Saving Club,
Melways 86 C9 for directions; email Phillip.Wierzbowski@dse.vic.gov.au.December
–MarchEnviro Kids Playgroup Bayside Bayside Environmental Friends Network,
email Barbara Jakob at baysideFriends@gmail.com for further details.1–3 JanuaryPort Welshpool Sea Days Festival at the Ferry Terminal. Activities include marine ecology and coastal wildlife displays, seagrass walks, coastal arts and crafts, and boat rides.
More info at http://south-gippsland.com/portwelshpool.htm.3–20 JanuarySummer by the Sea. Go to www.dse.vic.gov.au/summerbythesea for information and to download a program guide.15 JanuaryPhillip Island Conservation Society Annual General Meeting. For more details email Christine Graydon at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at http://home.vicnet.net.au/~piconsoc.15–16 JanuaryFrankston Waterfront Festival. Details from www.frankston.vic.gov.au.27 JanuaryNational Marine Debris Initiative’s Torquay Cosy Corner Beach Clean Up. Meet at 6pm in the carpark. For more information phone John Foss on 0408 386 812 or email at email@example.com.JanuaryArtists’ and educators’ family workshops Port Phillip EcoCentre, cnr Herbert and Blessington Streets, St Kilda. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.6 MarchClean Up Australia Day, Friends of Williamstown Wetlands.
Contact Emma Camilleri at email@example.com for details.15–20 MarchBarwon Heads Festival of the Sea More information at www.barwonheads.net.
Regular Working Bees
Friends of Venus Bay Peninsula – Venus Bay Indigenous Gardens working bee, last Sunday of each month. For more information, visit the website at www.friendsofvenusbaypeninsula.org.au, email at
phone 5663 7525.
Anglesea Coast Action works on the coastal reserve at Anglesea/Point Roadknight on the second Saturday morning of each month (except January). For more information contact Carl Rayner on 9331 2810 or
Biosphere – Bass Coast Round Table meets at San Remo at 8pm on the third Friday of every month.
Contact Jane Jobe, convenor on 0409 530 898.
Coast Action/Coastcare Contacts
Coast Action/Coastcare Facilitators
Warrnambool and Southwest
Tel. 03 5561 9955
Mob. 0428 141 599
Otways and Surfcoast
Tel: 03 5220 2008
Mob: 0409 332 197
Geelong and Bellarine
Tel: 03 5226 4669
Port Phillip Bay
Tel: 03 9296 4525
Mob: 0411 409 815
Tel: 03 9296 4532
Mob: 0409 958 050
Tel: 03 5183 9116
Mob: 0429 842 142
Tel: 03 5152 0431
Mob: 0408 357 343
Statewide Coordinator, Melbourne
Tel: 03 9637 9742
Visit our web site at:
Coastcare’s national website:
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To receive Coastline via Email go to www.dse.vic.gov.au/coasts and go to the Quick Link ‘Coastline Newsletters’ or phone the Hotline on 03 9637 9742.
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