Counting on rare, and common, fish

white barred boxfish

Bay watch: The whitebarred boxfish seems to be a ‘fish on the move. Recorded from Western Port to Dongarra, WA, it has only been sighted in Port Phillip in relatively recent times. It is one of the fish participants in the Great Victorian Fish Count will be asked to keep a look out for. Picture: Rick Stuart-Smith

WATCHING goldfish in a bowl can be restful or compared to waiting for grass to appear.

But that won’t be the outcome for hundreds of divers and snorkelers in the water at Rye and Flinders this summer as part of the biggest citizen science event on Victoria’s marine calendar, the Great Victorian Fish Count.

“The huge amount of enthusiasm volunteers have for the Great Victorian Fish Count reflects the deep knowledge and passion that exists in local communities for our marine life,” Caitlin Griffith from the Victorian National Parks Association said.

“This enthusiasm makes it possible to contribute large amounts of real, usable data to marine managers and improves our understanding of Victoria’s waters.”

Now in its 11th year, the fish count is organised by the VPNA, Parks Victoria, Museum Victoria, Coastcare Victoria, dive operators and community groups. It will run from Saturday 21 November to Sunday 6 December.

This year’s count is looking for “fish on the move”, and will focus on species that may be expanding their distribution and populations as a result of changes in the marine environment, such as ocean warming due to climate change.

Fish counters will be asked to watch for well-known fish as well as species that may be new or unusual to the area, logging unusual or rare sightings on the Redmap project (

Redmap is a national citizen science project that records data and maps marine species that may be extending their range in Australia in response to changes in the marine environment.

Registrations for the Great Victorian Fish Count are open to dive clubs and community groups.

Details: or call 9347 5188.

First published in the Mornington News – 27 October 2015


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