The 2009 inaugural Fiji Islands Conservation Science Forum (FICSF) provided an excellent platform for the Butterflyfish Count organizing committee to present its findings to the greater scientific and conservation organizations in Fiji as well as to the general public. The presentation was made by Chinnamma Reddy on behalf of the committee.
The talk focused on the preliminary analysis of Butterflyfish abundance and species richness compiled from results of the Great Fiji Butterflyfish Count in November last year.
The considerably fewer resources required for conducting and receiving wide scale information on species distribution and abundance in Fiji was highlighted and proven through the mass network and support during the Butterflyfish Count event.
Mass replication of such surveys reduces variability in results and can be quite successfully utilized for establishing patterns on reef character etc.
Comparison to more scientifically rigorous surveys conducted by two independent surveyors was also carried out and the results appear to be comparable for both abundance and species richness from the two survey groups (GFBFC and scientists) across the Fiji Island.
It was found that results of timed swims rather than measured transects of the scientists was most comparable to the results gathered during the Great Fiji Butterfish Count. Surveyors were concentrating on one fish family and therefore there were records of more fish and species on most sites from both the survey groups.
Whilst the volunteer surveyor network still needs help in correct species identification this can be effectively corrected if participating resorts, NGO’s and schools spend more time reviewing the resource materials provided to them. This will ensure accuracy in the results gathered. The talk also highlighted the awareness that was raised in fish identification, population’s diversity, reef health, and conservation, in local resort staff and communities as well as visitors.
The talk concluded on the fact that 90% of Fiji’s 27 species can be found in most regions of the country and that there were high Butterflyfish numbers in most areas. There was also a call for participation and support for the second round of the Great Fiji Butterflyfish Count event to be held during 10th – 17th October 2009. All interested organizations are requested to take part in this fun event and contribute data toward the Butterflyfish database.
Please view the slideshow presented at the Forum for all details.
The FICSF was certainly the perfect opportunity to present and highlight the importance of volunteer networks to developing countries like Fiji where limited financial resources often hamper such initiatives. Good on you volunteers!
All the best for this year’s Great Fiji Butterflyfish Count and a big thank you to the FICSF organizers for an excellent show.