Gold Coast Sea Slug Census


Queen’s birthday long weekend 1-2 October 2016

The Gold Coast Sea Slug Census is in partnership with Southern Cross University and follows on from the successful census conducted over the past several years at Nelson Bay, New South Wales and of recent, the census conducted in Sydney. There are also plans to expand the event to biodiversity hot spots overseas.

The census is a photographic contest with a touch of science along the way.  Divers in buddy pairs are asked to take a photo of every sea slug found on their dive and to note the approximate size, depth and site information.  All divers that provide photos and notes are then eligible for prizes.

Boundaries of the census are southern end of South Stradbroke Island down to Cook Island which includes both boat and shore dives (Gold Coast Seaway and Tweed River). To date 216 species of sea slug have been recorded from this area and 156 species from the Gold Coast Seaway alone.

We also hope to provide a public talk on Sea Slugs from an expert in the field.

Our team –

1Prof Steve Smith, Acting Director, National Marine Science Centre, Southern Cross University. He is the co-founder of the Sea Slug Census program which started in Nelson Bay in December 2013 and has more than 25 years research experience focusing on marine biodiversity, especially of molluscs, in subtropical eastern Australia. Steve is also a passionate underwater macro photographer.



8Matt Nimbs, Honours candidate, passionate sea slug researcher and avid underwater macro photographer. Commencing his research into sea slugs in late 2013, Matt has rapidly become one of the key sea slug researchers in NSW. His current project focuses on the biogeography of sea slugs in subtropical eastern Australia. He intends to continue his passion for sea slug taxonomy by starting a PhD later this year.



3Sonya Karlsson – marine science graduate with a passion for diving and has an infinite love of all creatures with or without a backbone. As a scuba instructor at To Dive For and surf life saver on the Gold Coast, she is always found scanning the marine environment for animal life, behaviour and habitat.





Justin Leigh-Smith – born and bred on the Gold Coast and keen diver and surfer. More recently completed a degree in Marine Science and Management and now currently undertaking Honours in Marine Ecotoxicology. Particular interest in understanding the sources, fates and consequences of contaminants in the marine environment and a passion for underwater photography




5Deb  commenced diving in 1983 and soon developed a passion for the marine environment and in particular sea slugs.  Underwater Photographer with particular interest in the macro world underwater.   Since 1 July 2011 has been recording sea slug species found from GC Seaway down to Cook Island. 



Audrey Smith – has several decades of dive experience and an expert sea slug spotter who has found several of the species recorded so far from the Gold Coast.





11143378_1152316984783810_5199680054053107755_nLoren Mariani – Freelance photographer and owner of C Level Media. You will often find Loren spending time at the bottom of the ocean or cruising along the coast line capturing images for Gold Coast businesses and  local community groups.





Sponsorship opportunities are now available

Speakers can be provided to dive shops for club nights to give tips on finding sea slugs with basic fact sheets and dive guides for GC Seaway dives can be arranged. Nights dives in the GC Seaway are a particularly good place to start and this offers training opportunities and will encourage gear sales ie lights etc. The Gold Coast Cleanup dives have shown the enthusiasm of SE Queensland divers to get involved.  We are also hoping to encourage those divers that have been involved in the Nelson Bay Census and are keen to test their skills in a new environment. This census will offer a great opportunity to showcase what the Gold Coast can offer to both local and travelling divers.

In return we are seeking Prize donations for the competition as well as funds to cover costs of travel for speakers, boat charters, venue hire, printing costs etc.


The Gold Coast Sea Slug Census T-shirts are in and  available to purchase. For all details contact Deb Aston @


With a heap of sponsors locked in and a bag full of prizes up for grabs this is going to be a event that you dont want to miss. So make sure you register on our Facebook page at


We will be revealing more details about the Gold Coast Sea Slug Census over the next few months  including a (first of its kind) CLUB CHALLENGE. This will see dive clubs/groups alike go head to head battling it out in the quest to find and photograph all types of Sea Slugs and Nudibranch around the waters of the Gold Coast and Tweed area. The winning club/group will not only secure bragging rights for the year but will take home a spectacular trophy and prize pack.

If you are a member of a club or group and think this is something that they would want to take part send your inquiries to 



If you want to sponsor this exciting census please email or contact Deb Aston on 0417 001 043.

For divers/photographers keen to be involved in lead up dives, talks etc. send me a quick email and I will add you to the mailing list and ensure you receive updates on this exciting event.

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