Help marine scientists count the Coffs Coast's colourful sea slugs this weekend.
Help marine scientists count the Coffs Coast's colourful sea slugs this weekend. Professor Steven Smith

The great sea slug census

IMMERSE yourself in an underwater treasure hunt this weekend to help marine scientists document and discover sea slugs on the Coffs Coast.

The inaugral Coffs Coast Sea Slug Census will take place this weekend on the Coffs Coast with volunteers helping in the search for the flamboyant marine creatures.

People are invited to participate by finding and photographing as many species of sea slugs they can over three days.

"You don't have to be a diver to get involved. Many species of sea slug can be found in rocky shore habitats or in shallow water which is accessible on snorkel.

In the Solitary Islands Marine Park, more than 300 species have been documented to date.

"We are increasingly finding more and more tropical species in the region and so it is timely to work with locals and visitors to do a stocktake of the diversity in our own backyard," professor Steve Smith, director of the Southern Cross University National Marine Science Centre said.

The Coffs Coast Sea Slug Census will kick off with an introductory talk at the National Marine Science Centre on Thursday at 6.30pm and run over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The census will cover the entire Solitary Islands Marine Park as well as coastal waters to Brooms Head in the north and Sawtell in the south.

"The Sea Slug Census provides passionate photographers and naturalists with the opportunity to help document the diversity and distribution of the often flamboyant and highly photogenic sea slugs, which include the nudibranchs."

Led by Southern Cross University with the support of local organisers, the Solitary Islands Underwater Research Group, it is anticipated the census will generate new species records for the region.

Starting almost six years ago at Nelson Bay in the Port Stephens area, the Sea Slug Census has now expanded to 40 censuses spread over 10 locations along Australia's east coast.



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