The Second Gold Coast Sea Slug Census – Come On Down!
With their striking colours and diverse body forms, sea slugs are highly popular subjects for recreational, underwater photographers. The increasing availability of affordable cameras also means that more and more divers are taking pictures of these amazing animals: this provides an invaluable resource for researchers who are interested in their diversity and distribution.
The Sea Slug Census program encourages underwater photographers to do what they do best – take pictures of sea slugs – which are then scrutinised by experts to generate lists for different locations around the Australian coastline. But you don’t have to be a diver – snorkelers and rockpoolers have also made some exciting discoveries.
Commencing in Nelson Bay, NSW, in 2013, the Sea Slug Census has spread to locations along the east coast of Australia, with the inaugural event on the Gold Coast in October 2016, proving to be one of the most successful events. More than 50 participants photographed 129 species over the census weekend. Remarkably, despite considerable search effort by dedicated photographers in the preceding 5 years, participants found 30 species that had not previously been recorded from the region, including a number of undescribed species. These additions take the known sea slug diversity of the region to 249 species.
We now eagerly await the 2017 census and the discoveries that will inevitably be made.
Prof Stephen Smith, National Marine Science Centre, Southern Cross University
For more information visit the Gold Coast Sea Slug Census Facebook Event
Image: Facelina sp. 4 – an undescribed species found during the inaugural Gold Coast Sea Slug Census