Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
Can we eat our way through an exploding sea urchin problem?
Longspined sea urchins are native to temperate waters around New South Wales. But as oceans heat up, their range has expanded more than 650km, through eastern Victoria and south to Tasmania. Their numbers are exploding in the process, clear-felling kelp forests and leaving “urchin barrens” behind.
However, there's hope on the horizon.
The recently released Senate's Inquiry into Climate-Related Marine Invasive Species sheds light on a potential game-changer—a national Business Plan for collaborative urchin management. This plan, backed by two decades of scientific research, aims to protect and restore our coastal ecosystems.
Harvesting sea urchins for their roe, known as 'uni,' offers an affordable, scalable, and long-term approach. While challenges in processing and market access exist, success stories from Tasmania, where government investment kick-started an urchin industry, showcase the potential.
Tasmania's success with fishery-led control of overabundant sea urchins highlights a promising strategy. To maximize its impact, we can explore value-added opportunities, like expanding international markets, developing new uses for low-grade urchin roe and selling waste products. By making these efforts more profitable, divers could cover larger areas to manage urchin stocks effectively.
Guiding fishery efforts through subsidies in high-priority zones could enhance urchin control, benefiting states like Victoria facing similar challenges.
Achieving national, widespread urchin control will require challenging coordination. We need to:
- support dive fisheries to become the heavy lifter of urchin control
- add extra urchin control measures on high-value reefs
- begin restoring degraded barrens to a mosaic of urchin fisheries or kelp forests
- boost populations of urchin predators on healthy reefs, to increase resilience in the first place.
As we face the challenges of climate change and species redistribution, the Sea Urchin control program presents a global exemplar of climate-ready-australia. management of overabundant and range extending species, boosting rural economies and social wellbeing.
It's time to invest in a sustainable future for our oceans.
Melbourne to host the next World Recreational Fishing conference!
The World Recreational Fishing Conference (WRFC) is the world’s most prominent gathering of the recreational fishing community.
The conference is held every three years and aims to provide a unique learning opportunity as well as a chance to showcase Victoria’s and Australia’s fishing and tourism experiences to leading and influential recreational fishing stakeholders from across the world. It’s being held next February 19-23rd in Melbourne. Redmap will be there- showcasing how Aussie fishers have been instrumental in helping us all get a better understanding of marine climate change.
Find out more here!
New lead for Redmap Victoria
Dr. John R. Morrongiello is our newest member to join the Redmap team and is taking up the role as the regional Redmap Steering Committee representative for Redmap Victoria. He is interested in fish ecology and evolution and is currently investigating how fish respond to environmental changes on contemporary and evolutionary timesclaes. Additional to this John is a passionate university teacher and is involved in many community engagement activities.
Welcome to Redmap John!
Redmap Start of 2021 Newsletter
You can find Redmap's Start of 2021 Newsletter HERE.
- The Redmap Team
Redmap app finally gets an update!
The new Redmap apps retain a familiar look and feel but the functionality has been improved and previous bugs fixed. In other words, they look the same…. but should actually work now!
So how do you get the new app?
Search ‘Redmap’ in the Apple Store or Google Play store, or follow these links…
iOS app download: https://apps.apple.com/au/app/redmap/id720634088
Android app download: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.com.ionata.redmap&hl=en_AU&gl=US
Alternatively, if you already have the old app, your phone may automatically update or offer you a prompt to update which you can accept. If in doubt, you can check that your have the 2021 version on the app listing on your phone, otherwise just uninstall the old app and reinstall the new one.
We have done extensive testing prior to release, but as it’s been a long time between updates (and a LOT of tech things have changed behind the scenes), some usability issues may occur. If you experience any issues or errors with the app please let us know on email@example.com and we try to get a fix as soon as possible. Thanks in advance for your understanding!
A big thank you for the generous support from NSW DPI which has enabled this work to happen. Thanks also to Jemina Stuart-Smith, Peter Walsh and David Mossop, all from our host institute IMAS Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies | UTAS, for extensive testing and advice, and the team from Condense for doing a great job as always.
We have also been undertaking much needed work on the behind-the-scenes workings of the Redmap website and we’ll be releasing these upgrades in the near future. Also keep an eye out too for our next newsletter coming out soon, you can sign up for that here: Redmap Australia - Redmap (‘subscribe to our newsletter’, lower right of page).
We look forward to seeing your pics of any species you spot or catch out-of-range very soon! As a reminder, you can log a picture of any marine species that you think is further south than expected (or just a very rare or uncommon species in general), but if you wanted to see what species we are actively keeping an eye out for in your area, look here: Marine Species - Redmap.
Happy fishing, boating and diving,
The Redmap Australia team
PS: We would love you to help spread the word about the new apps, and Redmap in general. Keep an eye out on our Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RedmapAustralia and Twitter https://twitter.com/RedmapMarine for some comps to share posts & win some awesome marine playing cards
End of summer newsletter!
Our newsletter cover photo was taken by talented photographer Raymonda Dijkwel who took this rock cod image in Cabbage Tree Bay... "after weeks of rain and bad visibility, this was the first day I could see the fish again!"
To access the newsletter in your browser click HERE.
Effects of climate change that you can observe from your kitchen window
Read the full article here!
Detecting range-shifting species using their environmental preferences
When I’m cold, I find myself mindlessly gravitating towards the warmth of the fireplace, while on those hot Summer days I’ll commonly seek out the comparative cool of a stream or the ocean. Moving around like this is an innate response to the temperature of the environment and, despite our ability as humans to regulate our own body temperature, suggests there’s a preferred range of temperatures that make us happiest – not too hot, not too cold, but juuust right.
Unlike us mammals, most marine species can’t regulate their own body temperature and instead rely on the temperature of their environment to do this for them – making it necessary for these species to follow their thermal preferences when environmental conditions change. When species find themselves outside the temperature range they are best suited to, it becomes difficult for them to reproduce, grow and feed, which results in poor competitive ability and sometimes death.
So… marine species have strong preferences for specific environmental conditions, like a preferred temperature range. But how can we apply this understanding for assessing the ecological effects of climate change in marine systems?
Well, we know that climate change is driving a rapid, global redistribution of biodiversity, and these changes are occurring fastest in marine systems (https://theconversation.com/climate-driven-species-on-the-move-are-changing-almost-everything-74752). However, it’s very difficult to detect these changes for many marine animals because historical data sets of species occurrence locations seldom exist, and when these are available the information they contain is usually highly confounded by observer biases. For example, observations of animals commonly come from locations that are easy for people to access, and may not actually represent the true range of a species.
In the absence of these high-quality data sources, we can instead turn to our understanding of species environmental preferences to infer potential changes in their distributions through time. It’s important that multiple environmental factors, and not just temperature alone, are considered when assessing the combination of conditions that different species are best suited to. Thankfully, satellite technology now allows us to remotely sense lots of environmental variables, such as sea surface temperature, dissolved oxygen and current speed. This information can be matched to the locations where a species of interest has been recorded in order to gain a thorough understanding of the overall environmental conditions that species prefers.
Understanding the combination of environmental conditions that best describe where a species has been observed helps us predict the chance of that species occurring in other locations, given some information about the environmental conditions of those locations (again, easily available from satellites). If these predictions are made regularly and over a long period of time (say, each month for 20 years), it’s possible to measure changes in the area that species are likely to be found. It’s also possible to account for the influence of natural climate variation on these predictions (like seasonal warming and cooling), and doing so can help reveal the underlying influence of human-caused climate change on species distributions.
While you might not consider your next drive to the beach on a hot Summer’s day an attempt to ‘track your thermal preference,’ it is worth considering that the location of species’ in space and time is highly dependent on preferences for environmental conditions that they have acquired through the course of evolution. Worth considering also, are the many useful applications for this understanding of species selecting for their preferred environmental conditions - like for predicting the ecological effects of climate change, or for justifying why you’re at the beach on a hot day when you should be at work.
Redmap Diver Photo Competition: ENTER NOW
The Redmap Diver Photo Comp is a celebration of the strange critters and wonderful moments enjoyed by divers - from being up close and personal with unique marine life, to marvelling at the entirety of a marine community. It’s too common nowadays that our photographic efforts only result in space taken up on our hard drives, rarely seeing the light of day they deserve. With Summer now behind us, our Diver Photo Comp is a great opportunity to share recent diving adventures or dig up old ones to relive and celebrate.
The Redmap Team invites divers to submit their favourite photos to one, or all, of our three great categories, with generous prizes on offer. In each category prizes will be awarded to the winners of the People's Choice Award and Redmap's Choice Award – that’s a total of six prizes up for grabs!
Entries close: 9 pm Sunday 21 May
Online voting period: 9 am Monday 22 May – 9 pm Sunday 4 June
Winners announced: Monday 5 June
1. Up close and personal
Coming face-to-face with marine life, whether it’s large or tiny, is always a treat and often ‘other-worldly’ - submit your best close-up photo of marine life.
2. A unique encounter
Some species are more exciting to see than others. It’s likely that these are the critters we don’t see on most dives, so when we do it’s a real treat - submit your favourite photo of a unique encounter with marine life.
While individual animals darting in front of us can easily grab attention, they are only parts of larger, diverse communities of marine life - submit your best photo of underwater communities, from coral reefs to temperate kelp forests.
How to enter
Attach your photo(s) to an email and send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Include in your email:
1) your name, and
2) a title for your photograph
3) a caption to tell us a little about the photograph.
You will be notified that we have received your submission, and also informed of the competition’s results, via return email to the address from which you submitted your entry.
NB: Redmap Australia will NOT disclose your email address during or after this competition.
Two great prizes are up for grabs in each category. One will be awarded to the winner of the People's Choice Award and the other awarded to the winner of the Redmap's Choice Award.
People's Choice Award – $200 gift card at either Boating Camping Fishing OR Bunnings Warehouse (the choice is yours).
Redmap's Choice Award – A comprehensive field guide to the Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia.
People’s Choice Award
Voting for the People Choice Award will take place on Redmap Australia's Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/RedmapAustralia. Within each category, the photo with the highest number of ‘likes’ during the voting period will be deemed the People’s Choice Award winner. We encourage you to follow the competition on Redmap Australia’s Facebook page, and to ‘like’ and ‘share’ your favourite photos.
Redmaps’s Choice Award
Members of the Redmap Team will vote on their favourite photo in each category, with particular attention given to the creativity of the title and caption that accompanies each image.
Conditions of entry
1. Entrants can submit a maximum of two photographs to each category.
2. By entering your photo to this competition, you give Redmap Australia permission to post your photograph, accompanied by your name, photo title and caption, to its Facebook page, Twitter account and website.
3. Redmap Australia reserves the right to edit the title or caption of your image to ensure it is suitable for public viewing (please keep it family friendly).
4. Only photos of live animals in their environment will be allowed entry into this competition. Redmap Australia values the contribution of recreational fishers highly, as shown during our 2016 Redmap Fisher Photo Comp. However, this specific competition is aimed at the diving community, so we ask that no fishing photos are entered this time around (but underwater photos taken by spearfishers of live fish are warmly welcomed).
WA coral reefs threatened by climate change
Check out this short video and information on WA's coral reefs: HERE
We're experiencing some MAP errors at the moment (when logging a sighting or viewing a species distribution).
We are really sorry about that - it's beyond our control and we're hoping to have it fixed as soon as possible!
Thanks for your understanding!
QLD study: fish behaving badly on acid
Photo: fish swimming amongst natural carbon dioxide bubbles in research conducted off the coast of PNG (James Cook University)
Redmap's "other species" sighting category
The Redmap list is generated using a number of factors, including the ability to easily identify a species from similar species, which is often not possible just by looking at it! Redmap’s species list also needs to be limited so that we can get people to focus their efforts on marine life that scientists believe are likely to move (or for which there is already information confirming their movements).
So the idea of ‘other species’ is to allow people to send in sightings of species that we have not specifically listed – but which they think are unusual to the area (this may take a little research yourself!). In time, some of the ‘other species’ logged may end up providing enough evidence that we then start including them to watch out for! One of the greatest advantages of using citizen scientists is that they’re often on and under the water more than scientists – and see things happen long before they are scientifically surveyed. It’s this important information that Redmap is able to capture with your help.
When logging ‘other species’ please remember that it’s not just an identification service – our scientists all volunteer their time, so it’s important that you do a little research yourself first. Check out our species pages.
Redmap newsletter Dec 2013
Read the December 2013 newsletter here!