Science needs your old dive photos

By Australian Geographic 16 April 2021
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The world’s oceans are undergoing major changes, but they can be hard to track. But recreational divers may be the answer to one scientist’s prayers.

Scientists are calling all divers in Sydney and on the NSW North Coast to submit they’re old diving photos for a new project seeking to understand how the underwater world has changed over recent decades.

Because of the difficulty of underwater monitoring, scientists believe major changes are going unnoticed and hope the old dive photos will fill a knowledge gap. 

“Old dive photos hold a wealth of information, and potentially valuable scientific data, on the past health of reefs and the species that were present,” says University of New South Wales marine ecologist lead researcher Chris Roberts.

 “We can use these photos and observations to document how the marine life at dive sites has changed from the past and also to monitor them into the future.”

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Known as In Bygone Dives, the project currently focuses on two study regions, Sydney and the NSW North Coast, but may expand to include more areas at a later stage.

The researchers are looking for photos or videos from Sydney dive sites including Shelly Beach, Fairy Bower, Camp Cove, Fairlight, Clifton Gardens, Gordons Bay, Clovelly Pool, Shark Point, Bare Island, Kurnell and Ship Rock.

Of particular interest is the arrival of new species such as tropical fish, the increased prevalence of species such as pests, and species loss such as kelp.

Divers can now upload their images here, however, the In Bygone Dives project will officially launch at the Manly Seaweed Forests Festival this Sunday, April 18.