Network Blue Dives Into the Port River

In partnership with Portside Christian College (PCC) and Estuary Care Foundation (ECF) our student-led citizen science program Network Blue is diving into the Port River.

ECF is pioneering the first local, citizen science, shellfish restoration project in the Port River. This project is part of broader efforts to restore shellfish reefs dominated by the native Ostrea angasi flat oyster which once existed along 1500km of South Australia's coastline. Today, oyster reefs are amongst the most endangered marine systems on earth - with 85% global loss over the past 150 years.

📸:ECF volunteers and BSAC divers deploying oyster bags in the Port River.

Oyster restoration projects provide an opportunity to restore the ecological foundations of marine ecosystems. When oysters cement together, their aggregations form complex habitat creating homes for a great diversity of invertebrates, boosting the density and diversity of the little animals that feed the broader coastal food web. But that’s not all, oysters feed by filtering particles from the water; in doing so, they improve water quality and encourage neighboring seagrass to grow. A single oyster filters up-to 150 litres of water a day. Now, can you imagine the water filtration capacity of an entire reef! Nature really does do it best. 

While the Port River and Barker Inlet Estuary is home to numerous shellfish, the once plentiful native angasi flat oyster is now found only occasionally. Angasis have been classified as “functionally extinct", not only in the Port River but throughout South Australia. Restoring angasis to the Port River will provide substrate for existing shellfish, improve water quality, help stabilise shorelines, and enhance the ecology of the estuary.

In a workshop held at Immanuel College, students from PCC built a rig which has been deployed in the Port River Inner Harbour behind the school. This rig has a low-cost, live-streaming underwater camera which will be utilised to monitor shellfish reef restoration from the classroom. Students and involved partners have the ability to observe marine life associated with restored oyster reefs and identify any potential predators which may be inhibiting reef formation in real-time.

Students deploy their rig in the Port River.

This partnership opportunity enables students to engage in authentic marine science experiences whilst having a positive impact on their local community. Through exciting and affordable Network Blue projects we can bridge the gap between real-world science and schools to reinvigorate students' learning pathways in STEM.

Final touches on rig assembly.

Learn more about our student-led citizen science program Network Blue here.

AusOcean works with other non-profit organisations who are working to preserve or enhance our precious marine environment. Through the development of low-cost, open source technology we can help other NPO's have a bigger impact. AusOcean follows an open-source, open data, open science model. This means embracing collaborative tools and workflows which enables processes and progress to be fully transparent. A critical aspect of working open is sharing data not only with your immediate team but with others across the world who can learn, adapt and contribute to collective research. By contributing to, and supporting open practices within the scientific community, we can accelerate research and encourage transparency. All tech assembly guides can be found at https://www.ausocean.org/technology.

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Rig built by students affectionately named "Cavan" after the tech teacher.

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