This year marks 25 years since the area surrounding the Solitary Islands was first gazetted as a Marine Reserve, to later become known as the Solitary Islands Marine Park (SIMP). To mark the occasion, celebrations were held with many guest speakers drawn from user groups, stakeholders, and the scientists who originally recognised the unique attributes of the Solitary Islands, telling their stories to a large audience at Coffs Harbour Surf Club. At times moving, other times very funny, the stories flowed continually during the day long session. 

SURG the organisation has been around for nearly 31 years. Its members were very involved in the formation of the original Solitary Islands Marine Reserve, and the subsequent transition to Marine Park, and to mark this long and fruitful relationship, a special Marine Discovery session was held at the downstairs auditorium of the National Marine Science Centre in the evening following the day long celebrations.

Around 70 people attended to hear and speak with some of SURG’s founding fathers and original members from all those years ago. Many of our newer members have no idea of how their organisation came about, and were able to hear first hand how, from small but passionate beginnings, SURG grew to become the dynamic organisation it is in 2016.

During the evening various speakers gave accounts of the early days of searching for Government funding, of the research methods long before we had GIS and computer aids, and more importantly, where we are now and what we hope to achieve in coming years.

President Nicola Fraser wound the evening up with a short address to the importance of Citizen Science and how our members are at the forefront of gathering valuable information about the marine fauna in our local area.