Getting friendly with marine life in the Gippsland Lakes

A community grant to the Friends of Beware Reef is uncovering just what lies beneath the surface of the Gippsland Lakes.

According to member Alan Wilkins, the idea behind the project was to give members of the public access to see what lives in the Gippsland Lakes, without having to dive down and see it themselves.

“The project is showing people what we see” said Alan. “If I told you there were groper in the Lakes, you might not believe me, but I can show you photos.

“When we walk around, you can see the birds and wildlife on the land, but not many people get to see what’s beneath the surface of the Gippsland Lakes.”

Members of the Friends; Don Love, Alan Wilkins and John Arien; hope that by sharing what they see, others might be inspired to take better care of the environment around them.

“Everything we do in the catchment, impacts on the Gippsland Lakes,” continued Alan. “Whether you’re skiing in the high country, using fertilizer on your farm or boating on the Lakes – it effects the whole eco system.”

“Unfortunately, we’ve found a lot of rubbish in the Lakes during our dives.”

For Alan his current interest is in nudibranchs, a group of soft bodied molluscs, noted for their often extraordinary colours and different forms.

“They are dependent on other forms of life within the marine environment for food, shelter and a place to lay their eggs.

“This relationship shows the interconnected nature of the Gippsland Lakes and surrounding environment.

“The Gippsland Lakes are a dynamic system. What was healthy 100 years ago is different to what healthy looks like today.”

For John, the message is simple. “Don’t rubbish the place,” he says. “We’ve all got a role to play in keeping the Gippsland Lakes healthy. Be conscious about what you’re doing and think about the impact your having.”

Alan has similar advice. “We need to preserve what we’ve got. We’re doing this project because we want to see the Gippsland Lakes healthy now and into the future and we can all make a difference.”

This community grant was funded by the Victorian State Government for the health of the Gippsland Lakes.