Surf-Zone Fish Maps
I am 22 years old from Glenn Innes in NSW. I have a keen interest in all things fishy and marine and truly want to contribute to protecting our magnificent coastline and its biodiversity.
Magnificent sandy beaches are the single most highly prized natural asset of the Sunshine Coast: beaches underpin our tourism economy, are hot-spots of development, and are the coast’s prime site for all manner of recreation. Whilst nobody can argue the prime position of sandy beaches when it comes to social, cultural and economic connections, surprisingly few people know that beaches are also important ecosystems in their own right: they contain a rich diversity of fauna and flora and provide the stage for some truly fascinating physics and chemistry (Anyone for massive sand filters, underwater rivers of sand, jumping sand grains?).
Beaches are not merely the bare strip of sand between the sea and the land. Quite the contrary, when viewed as ecosystems, ‘beaches’ extend out into the surf zones and landwards into the dunes, thereby forming a holy trinity of intertwined habitats (we still try to determine whether the beach is catholic). It is those very surf-zones of beaches where my research takes place. Surf-zones are important habitats for a great variety of fish and many an Australian day is spent angling in the surf zone. Surprisingly, science has only just begun to examine in earnest what makes surf fishes tick and how we can best conserve them, especially on the Sunshine Coast. To get this process started properly, I am currently producing the first-ever ‘map’ of the distribution and bio-diversity of fishes in the region’s surf zones. This should also give us a good measure of the ‘condition or health’ of beaches in the region and how human changes to coastal areas are impacting our surf fishes. Incidentally, my surf fish work has already made an economic impact: we have deployed no fewer than 800 underwater cameras from Noosa to Caloundra and cowrie shells did not suffice to buy them….