Critical habitat surveys at Red Rock


A team of SURG members explored the lower reaches of Red Rock estuary last weekend, taking advantage of the clear water and perfect weather to better understand the areas ofcritical habitat. On Friday Tom Mair and Ian Shaw dived the high tide from the shop to the boat ramp, where they searched for threatened cod species, pipefish and seahorses. While there were two cod species sighted, both noted the absence of tropical species particularly the lack of butterfly fish, possibly due to the cool water temperature of 18 degrees. It was good to see large numbers of juvenile bream, luderick and flathead however, as well as the usual gobies and fortescues. Generally that part of the estuary appears in good condition, with little marine debris apart from the usual beer bottles, an iPhone, a partial six pack of Tooheys New, and metres of fishing line and braid.

The following day, using the NMSC's tinny, Steve Dalton, his friend Jeremy and Nicola Fraser conducted a swath mapping exercise along the reaches near Jewfish Point, looking for submerged logs and and other anomalies that may indicate suitable habitat for threatened species. Other SURG divers, Bruce Gilchrist, Rebecca Nolan, Neil Vaughan, Tom Mair and Ian Shaw dived in some of the deeper holes and deployed two go-pros programmed to take a still photo every 5 seconds. Neil Vaughan obtained some video footage of a large juvenile Giant Queensland Groper, and sightings of Mangrove Jacks were also made. Several abandoned crab traps were found and removed, one containing a large black spotted rockcod (see photos below).