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ORDINARY families took on the role of citizen scientists on Sunday, wading into the Sandy Bay Rivulet to measure the extent of man-made damage done to the ecosystem.
The study was spearheaded by six-yearold citizen scientist Jethro and his dad John Gooderham, who cofounded The National Waterbug Blitz and accompanying app.
The blitz involves collecting insect life from waterways and identifying which species remain in the system as a way to determine the health of the ecosystem.
Mr Gooderham said it was a simple, but effective way to get families out into their local ecosystems and diving into freshwater ecology first-hand.
“Anyone can do it because it’s such a simple process and you can easily see the results; if you have two trays next to each other, you can see one’s wriggling with life and the other’s not,” Mr Gooderham said.
The blitz was carried out by about 20 volunteers from the Friends of Sandy Bay Rivulet, who came brandishing nets ready for a day of collecting samples up and down the rivulet.
President Peter Blackwell said they saw drastic changes across the length of the system, with about 20 insect species living upstream but only about four downstream near the town next to Parliament St.
Mr Blackwell said it was a clear indicator of how much humans had disturbed the system, making it unlivable for all but a few hardy critters.
“What we do consider remarkable is that there are still five native fish species which have to go into the Derwent estuaries in order to reproduce that are still living in the Sandy Bay Rivulet,” Mr Blackwell said.
“It’s a rivulet that’s still able to support fish that have lived in it for hundreds of thousands of years, but could be made unsuitable if pollution and disturbances in the catchment continue.”