ENVIRONMENTAL monitoring is as simple as taking a photo for visitors of the Merri Marine Sanctuary at Pickering Point.
The sanctuary is home to Warrnambool’s first fluker post, a fixed photo-point where visitors are encouraged to place their digital camera or smartphone, take a snap and send it to a listed email.
Each photo sent is uploaded to a chronological online photo gallery within 10 hours, and is used to monitor the changing state of the environment.
The Merri Marine Sanctuary post is one of 78 of its kind installed around Australia since 2008 as part of Victoria University’s fluker post research project — the brainchild of business and tourism researcher Dr Martin Fluker.
Dr Fluker said the Warrnambool photo-point has had a great reaction since it was installed in February, and receives maintenance help from Parks Victoria rangers and the Friends of Merri Marine Sanctuary.
“It’s the only fluker post in Warrnambool at the moment but I’d love to install more in the area,” Dr Fluker said.
“All the instructions people need to know are written on the posts. It’s such a simple and accessible way for tourists to contribute data that can be used in the ongoing management of parks.”
Dr Fluker said photos sent to the project have been used to detect environmentally damaging factors like weeds, plant diseases and litter.
“It’s great that we’re able to spot the early onset of plant diseases like phytophthora, which can turn up in Victorian national parks and cause massive damage,” he said.
“We hope to maintain and expand the project for at least a decade.”
Parks Victoria acting ranger- in-charge for Warrnambool Ailsa Morris said fluker posts were a great way to get people thinking about the environment.
“It’s a fantastic way to engage people in the marine sanctuary,” she said.