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Port Stephens residents invited to free Marine Discovery Talks

White seahorse on dark background

Local residents interested in finding out about some of the endangered marine life within the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park are invited to the Marine Discovery Talks at Tomaree Library and Community Centre on Wednesday 11 May 2022.

The free event is hosted by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) featuring talks from Dr David Harasti, Senior Marine Scientist at DPI Fisheries and Meryl Larkin, PhD Researcher at Southern Cross University.

Dr Harasti said the talks will delve into the dramatic decline in soft corals and seahorses in Port Stephens - over the past decade and what is being done to assist with the species recovery.

“In 2020, the White’s seahorse became listed as the second endangered seahorse species in the world,” Dr Harasti said.

“Port Stephens used to be a hotspot region for this seahorse species, however over the past decade their numbers have significantly declined.

“At the Marine Discovery Talks, I will be talking about the DPI conservation program currently underway to recover White’s Seahorse populations within Port Stephens, using artificial habitats known as Seahorse Hotels, and a new conservation stocking program.

“Seahorse hotels are providing hope for this iconic marine species and will hopefully contribute to their numbers increasing in the wild,” Dr Harasti said.

Ms Larkin said the installation of artificial habitats is also an initiative that is being used to restore populations of the endangered cauliflower soft coral.

“The cauliflower soft coral is an important habitat for numerous marine species, and Port Stephens is one of the few locations this coral occurs,” Ms Larkin said.

“Over the past decade, the abundance of the species within Port Stephens has declined by approximately 95%”.

“I am looking forward to talking to local residents about our work to help recover this species in the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park, by transplanting of soft coral cuttings and installing ‘coral condos’”.

The Marine Discovery Talk is on Wednesday 11 May 2022 at 6.30pm in the Waratah Room at Tomaree Library and Community Centre, Salamander Bay.

For more information about Marine Parks in NSW, visit the DPI website: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/marine-protected-areas/marine-parks

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