Marine pest operation successful in marine protected area
Thursday 28 March, 2019
Tens of thousands of overabundant urchins culled
To protect the marine ecosystem, more than 25,000 overabundant black-spined urchins were recently culled in Beware Reef Marine Sanctuary, offshore from Cape Conran in East Gippsland by Parks Victoria commissioned contractors.
These urchins devour kelp and other algae, creating bare areas of reef called “urchin barrens” which are unable to support plant or animal life.
Parks Victoria staff surveyed urchin densities prior to and following the cull, reporting a reduction of more than 90per cent of black-spined urchins in the largest barren within the marine sanctuary. The urchins were culled using specially designed hand-tools, ensuring the quickest, most humane and effective approach.
This program contributes to a larger state-wide initiative to manage overabundant urchins in marine protected areas, in partnership with the University of Melbourne, Deakin University and volunteers.
Quotes, attributed to Mark Rodrigue, Marine and Coastal Leader, Parks Victoria
“Urchin barrens are a relatively new issue in Victoria. The range of black-spined urchins has expanded with the strengthening of the East Australian current, associated with climate change.”
“In the same way that forests on land provide homes and food for many smaller plants and animals, underwater forests of kelp and algae are important habitats that provide marine life with food and shelter. By significantly reducing their numbers we can give the ecosystem a chance to recover.”