Be a devil take part in a survey

UNDERWATER researchers plan to dive reefs around the Solitary Islands for the first time mapping threatened and protected fish species, surveying waters between Tweed Heads and Port Macquarie.

Marine biologists from Southern Cross University and Coffs Harbour’s National Marine Science Centre

hope to collect information on where these important marine species are found.

“We want to determine which habitats are critical for different species, vital information for the ongoing management and protection of these rare species,” Associate Professor Stephen Smith said.

As part of the project, the researchers are calling on recreational and commercial divers to contribute details of sightings of threatened and protected marine species.

Information will then be verified by the research team.

“There are many people involved in diving and recreation, who collectively spend a lot of time in the water.”

“This potentially provides a great source of information on the distribution of species that we can collate and check,” he said.

The research project has been funded by the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority.

Dr Steven Purcell said there are a number of reasons why marine species are listed as threatened or protected including over fishing, illegal collection for aquarium trade and human-induced changes to habitat.

An estimated 20 threatened and protected species are found off the Mid North Coast including the eastern blue devil fish, the Queensland groper and the Ballina angel fish.

To contribute to the survey email Steve Dalton at

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