Estuary watchers breaking new ground, a collaboration between Universities and citizen scientists

Miss Rose Herben1, Miss Allyson  O’Brien2, Miss Jane Findlay3, Miss Ayali Dissanayake Mudiyanselage3, Miss  Athulya Wickramasingha3, Miss Melissa Bigot3

1Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Colac, Australia, 2University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 3Deakin University, Waun Ponds

Abstract

EstuaryWatch is a successful citizen science program active in Victoria.  The program has over 100 dedicated volunteers across the state monitoring estuary mouth condition and physical/chemical parameters that are indicators of estuary health.  Up until now EstuaryWatch monitors have had no formal way of collecting data on flora or fauna found in estuaries.  In 2017 EstuaryWatch collaborated with students from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Deakin University to develop monitoring protocols for monitoring the concentration of  Chlorophyll a in estuaries.  In the same year EstuaryWatch collaborated with Allyson O’Brien, Research Fellow from the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne to develop protocols for monitoring eDNA in estuaries.  Both projects involved research staff and students attending a project briefing with EstuaryWatch coordinators, attending an EstuaryWatch monitoring session with an active group of volunteers, conducting a literature review of the parameter being monitored, extensive monitoring trials, developing monitoring protocols and presenting them to EstuaryWatch coordinators and volunteers.  Both collaborative projects were a great example of how citizen scientists and universities can develop new monitoring techniques together by drawing on each others knowledge and expertise.

Biography

Rose Herben is the State EstuaryWatch Coordinator at the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority in Victoria.  Rose started as an EstuaryWatch volunteer on the Anglesea River and has now been in the coordinator role for six years, supporting volunteer groups in the Corangamite region and EstuaryWatch coordinators across the state.

About the Association

The Australian Coastal Society (ACS) was initiated at the Coast to Coast Conference in Tasmania in 2004. The idea was floated as a means for those interested in coastal matters to communicate between conferences and where possible take resolutions of the conference to appropriate levels of government.

The idea was discussed further at the Coast to Coast Conference in Melbourne in 2006 and it was agreed that Bruce Thom develop a constitution of a company limited by guarantee that would operate on a national basis.

This plan was accomplished and in 2008 at the Coast to Coast Conference in Darwin the constitution was ratified and an Executive appointed. The company received charitable status in 2011.

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