Reef Watch and represented by Simon Branigan from the Victorian National Parks Association and all the marine care groups. The first day of the Two Bays program was initially as grey as the weatherboards on Gem Pier in Williamstown. The day was planned to combine launch and acivities to celebrate the marine parks in Port Phillip Bay. Two Bays 2012 coincides with their 10th year anniversary. The day was partnered with
VNPA played a role in the establishment of terrestrial national parks and contributed significantly to the set up of the marine parks.
There is clear research that the greater the community engagement in marine parks, the better the conservation outcome. In the case of Victoria's marine parks, without the support of community, we would not have the established marine park system we have today.
We sailed to the Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary (Sanctuary is the term for a smaller marine park) on the Eastern side of the Bay, with Friends groups from Jawbone and Point Cooke Marine Parks and met up with people from Marine Care- Ricketts Point and other participants. The groups had invited friends along to encourage them to join and support their local marine care groups.
The day was coordinated by a Parks Vic marine intern, Amanda Franklin (pictured above)- who stepped into the role this year as Two Bays coordinator for Parks Victoria and has done a fantastic job.It was fantastic to have the still relatively new Parks Vic CEO on board- Bill Jackson. I heard him speak a while back in his role as head of ICUN at the Healthy People Healthy Parks conference in 2010. I was impressed by him then and thrilled to hear he had taken the role of head of Parks in Melbourne. It seemed very fitting for the day that the CEO of Parks was one of the divers. The presence of marine interns this year is part of decisions made by Parks to activate more people on the ground for the marine environment.
We headed to the sanctuary, with our boatload picked up from two jettys on either side of the bay, to share the delights of the underwater denizens through divers filming and sharing images on a screen placed in the saloon of Pelican1.[[posterous-content:pid___2]]It's an interesting experience, moving slightly on a boat and watching the fluid imagery of the life happening just beneath you. The umbilical connection of the cable gave a life and immediacy to the pictures so that it did not feel like TV. Or like the very well-known Leunig cartoon of a person watching a sunset on TV, while the real sun sets out the window.
The divers under the watchful gaze of Chris Hayward from Parks Vic, who managed all the safety aspects of the day. Ray Lewis, seated nearby, is one of the key people behind the thriving Marine Care group at Ricketts. He has also just published a book called Marine Victoria for Volunteers about the marine care groups, volurteering in the bay and a huge amoount of information abot our local marine habitats. (He very kindly donated a copy for Pelican1)A biscuit seastar brought up by the divers and returned to its home after Marg O'Toole (pictured in 2nd photo) had shared her extensive knowledge of marine creatures. Janet Bolitho (Port Phillip councilor), pictured above, has been a huge supporter of the Two Bays project and the Pelican gang. She has MC'd every launch of Two Bays so it was fitting to have her on board for the day.
[[posterous-content:pid___1]]It is during the informal chats that happen onboard that some of the best outcomes of the Two Bays program are created.
Bill Jackson, Parks CEO, lugging his oxygen up the Black Rock jetty at the end of the day.
Mark Rodrigue, one of the key individuals within Parks Victoria who has ensured the program's continuity and driven it with an infectious passion for all things salty. Pictured here with Amanda Franklin.
Parks Victoria's ongoing support of the program over the last six years has allowed ideas and networks around it to flourish. The central platform of the program (besides doing lots of science) is the sharing knowledge (across agencies, different cultures and connecting to the general community) and encouraging collaboration. This is a fundamental for working with and understanding the complex needs of dynamic sys and often threatened marine environments.