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Flood research draws crowd at Port Stephens

Group of people in a room looking at a presentation

The impact of recent flooding on coastal waterways one of the key topics discussed at the Marine Discovery Talk held earlier this month in Port Stephens.

More than 40 locals attended the Marine Discovery Talks, hosted by DPI Fisheries at the Tomaree Library and Community Centre, to find out about recent research on marine habitats and marine wildlife.

The free event featured talks from DPI Fisheries Research Scientist Dr Tom Davis and Fisheries Scientist Dr Matt Nimbs on their research.

Dr Davis presented his research work on the kelp dieback due to 2021 floods.

“Severe floods in March 2021 caused extensive damage to marine habitats, especially kelp beds, in Port Stephens,” Dr Davis said.

“Over 50% of the kelp in Port Stephens was impacted by this flood, but a substantial recovery has occurred since then,” he said.

“My presentation delves into the research being conducted by DPI to identify the causes of kelp losses in Port Stephens and to examine kelp recovery since the floods.”

Dr Davis said he was impressed with the level of interest of people attending the talk.

“It was great to be able to discuss the results of my research with some of the people that are most affected by it.”

“We had members of the dive community, local marine conservation groups as well as interested members of the public attend.”

A brightly coloured sea slug

Dr Nimbs said marine sea slugs are a highly diverse group of colourful and weird species that are sought after by underwater photographers and divers.

“Sea slugs are also important as indicator species, being highly sensitive to ecological change,” Dr Nimbs said.

“Nudibranchs and other sea slugs have done away with the familiar gastropod shell, opting instead for an unconstrained life as potentially vulnerable, soft-bodied meals.

“Despite this, they go about their lives with little fear of being eaten.

“It was great to talk to local residents about the complex biology of some of Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park’s most loved inhabitants”.

The kelp research in Port Stephens is part of the Climate Change Research project funded under the NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy.

To find the paper on the impact of flooding on kelp at Port Stephens click here.

This project aims to research the effects of climate change to fill knowledge gaps and guide future management actions.

The Marine Discovery Talk was on Wednesday 12 October 2022 at Tomaree Library and Community Centre, Salamander Bay.

If you are interested in gaining access to future webinars on MEMS research and projects email us at contact.us@marine.nsw.gov.au to be placed on a mailing list.

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