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Sea Change(s)

Frogs are often regarded as the worlds canaries because of their sensitivity to environmental degradation and disruption. In the marine world, corals could be their climate change cousins given their vulnerability to so many small environmental changes including increases in sea temperature, changes in acidity and levels of nutrients.
And, unlike frogs - small and often cryptic -  it is hard NOT to notice the effects on coral when hectares of spectacularly coloured reefs become stark, bleached...white.
However, as  new research is discovering, the effects of climate change on sea life extend far beyond sensitive corals. First shell fish and now even fish species are being found to be impacted.

  Diving into Science with the Underwater Research Group of NSW
Inspiring people, engaging communities and protecting our marine environment. URG started in the 1950s before SCUBA gear could be bought in Sydney. Many of the early URG members were engineers or draftsmen so they made their own. There was very little exploration beyond how far you could dive down with a snorkel so a whole new world opened up as soon as they could make reliable underwater breathing gear. Sydney has an incredibly diverse and very colourful marine community on its doorstep. There is more than twice the number of fish species in Sydney Harbour than the entire coastline of the United Kingdom. There is an amazing array of underwater gardens, particularly sponge gardens. If you went for a bushwalk on North Head and saw 40 native species of animals you would be excited. That is what you see when you dive at Shelly Beach just around the corner from North Head
Nowadays most people who join URG are interested in the citizen science projects like marine debris, weedy sea dragons and the reef life survey. While much citizen science is done with SCUBA more and more people can get involved on land, like with clean ups, and even from their desktops. They can click on photos and help identify what they see, being an underwater citizen scientist without getting wet! A lot of URG work does involve diving and Sydney has good diving all year round. While experienced divers are well balanced underwater, newcomers have to go into these situations with an open mind and a sense of adventure. It can be cold, it is wet and it can be hard to see if visibility is down. Newcomers should join a club or dive shop and dive with people who are experienced and know the area so you can dive in the best place given the conditions. 


  A very fine Port: Sydney Harbour
Situated in the middle of the tropical currents from the north and the cooler ones from the south, Sydney Harbour boasts many different habitats as well as regarded by many as the most beautiful harbour in the world. There are rocky reefs, kelp beds, sea grass beds, mangroves, saltmarshes and patches of mud and sand. Some of these are exposed and some protected so this wide range accommodates more fish species in Sydney Harbour than the entire coastline of New Zealand or Great Britain. David Booth, Professor of Marine Ecology at the University of Technology Sydney, outlines some of the work from the Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences, one of the few marine institutes situated on an urban harbour.

  The impact of floods on the Moreton Bay ecosystem
Professor Rod Connolly, from Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute, outlines how the Brisbane floods in early 2011 affected the marine ecosystem in Moreton Bay.

  Some current changes
The changes in the East Australian Current have been so great and so rapid that the average water temperature of NSW waters some 60 years ago is now the average water temperature within eastern Tasmania.

  Nemo not the only one to take a ride on the EAC
Paloma Matis, PhD research student at the University of Technology Sydney, brings insights into the East Australian Current, on its oceanography and on its role in the tropicalisation of temperate reefs as far south as Sydney.

  Ocean acidification
As scientists are increasingly discovering, the effects of rising levels of ocean CO2 are unexpectedly complex and far reaching.

  The puzzle of coral bleaching (series)
The causes and effects of these complex and often devastating changes are still being unravelled.

  From oil rig to reef
How should we manage the ever increasing forest of obsolete oil rig remnants

  Climate change: a growing problem for intertidal rock platform ecosystems
Jennifer Clark, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney, outlines her doctoral research studies on the heat tolerance and adaptation potential of the macroalga, known as Neptune’s Necklace, to global warming. Her research involves understanding how macroalgal communities will respond to changing climates, particularly with increases in temperature, and whether they possess the capacity to adapt to these changes.

  Managing reefs to maximise their survival
Dr Selina Ward, President of the Australian Coral Reef Society, discusses some of the positive steps that are being taken to manage our Great Barrier Reef effectively.


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