The Inaugural Coffs Coast Sea Slug Census held from the 18th to 20th January 2019 was a great success despite the strong winds and cold 18 degrees water temperatures. The event kicked off on the Thursday evening prior to the Census with a Marine Discovery Series talk which provided both on shore and diving participants with the necessary skills to locate and identify the slugs. This followed with 27 participants recording 97 sea slug species over the next 3 days from Brooms Head to Sawtell.
Some Sea Slug Census participants managed to get to Pig Island on the windy Saturday while others went to South Solitary Island on the Sunday.
Most species sighted
Doriprismatica atromarginata was the species most sighted. This was closely followed by the sea hare Aplysia juliana and the small orange Rostanga arbutus, which are found in rock-pools. With 26 species, citizen science team Craig and Alex Lewis documented the most species.
Most interesting species sighted
Many interesting species were photographed including some that have been seen only sporadically in the region. Craig and Alex Lewis found the most interesting find of the census, the Sagaminopteron psychedelicum. To our knowledge, this is only the third sighting of S. psychedelicum which is one of the "holy grail" species for many slug hunters. Other contenders for the most interesting species were Nicola and Tom Davis for Janolus sp. and James, Euan, Lea and Sophie for Herviella claror.
Ian Shaw won first prize for his image of Goniobranchus cf fidelis taken at Pig Island.
Copyright Ian Shaw
Because of the poor sea conditions only Sunday's trip to South Solitary could go ahead. The Friday and Saturday trips were cancelled and rescheduled after the Census dates. Unfortunately the species found couldn't be counted in the data. Following are some shots taken during the dive.