Around 100 volunteers will dive under the waters of the Gold Coast seaway this weekend to count nudibranchs – also known as sea slugs – as part of the second annual Sea Slug Census.
The community-based project is led by Southern Cross University’s Professor Stephen Smith, who says the event is part of a wider census program held at locations along Australia’s east coast including Nelson Bay and Sydney.
“The data are used by Southern Cross University scientists to map the distribution of sea slugs and identify changes to these patterns over time,” Professor Smith said.
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“So far, this process has identified more than 20 species that have expanded their range southward which is thought to be an indicator of the effects of climate change.”
Professor Smith said sea slugs are particularly useful as indicators of environmental change because of their rapid life cycles and specific feeding requirements.
“With their bright colours, many of them are also highly visible making them a perfect group to target by citizen scientists,” he said.
So far, more than 80 participants have registered for the event making it the biggest Sea Slug Census ever held, with more expected to register in the lead up to the day.
Registrations are open until 5pm Friday with forms available from the dedicated ‘Gold Coast Sea Slug Census’ Facebook page.