The UN award-winning Feral or in Peril Program is part of Reef Watch. The program started in 2002 and continues with support from:
- Adelaide & Mt Lofty Ranges NRM Board
- Biosecurity SA
- Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources
- Boating Industry Association SA
- Australian Government Caring for Our Country
Feral or in Peril is building an early warning network of recreational divers, anglers and boaters to help keep track of introduced marine pests that are a potential threat to the marine ecosystems as well as local species that may be in danger of disappearing.
See the Feral or In Peril field guide and report sightings here.
Over the last couple of hundred years, many plants and animals have been introduced into Australia, and of these several have become major problems. Introduced species have entered our marine environment in a number of ways both accidentally and deliberately.
Unfortunately we know comparatively little about the way that the marine environment functions and hence it is difficult for us to know exactly what effect these introductions will have. However it would be reasonable to assume that some of the more invasive species could potentially create a similar amount of devastation as that caused by cats, foxes, and rabbits on the land.
In addition, because of the difficulties in operating underwater, it is almost impossible to eradicate a 'pest' once it becomes established in the marine environment. Up until now most work has focused on monitoring the rate of spread and attempting to understand the effects of these introductions.
Recent experience has shown that it is possible to eradicate a 'pest' species, providing the population is discovered early enough, and as relatively few people ever see the underwater environment, it is important that every diver and snorkeller keep a look out for these species, and report them promptly.
'In Peril' Species
Many marine species in Australian waters are virtually unknown. For those that have at least been identified, there is precious little information regarding life history, ecology or population. The South Australian native species included in this program are those that are considered to be of conservation concern. They are considered by this program to be 'in peril’ because scientists do not have enough data to assess whether or not they are threatened or vulnerable. A few species on our list are protected and there are penalties for taking these species:
- Black cowry (bag limit of one per person per day)
- Leafy sea dragons
- Weedy sea dragons
FREE Waterproof Identification Kits for anglers, boaters and divers
To aid recreational divers, anglers and boaters in identifying species of concern, the Feral or in Peril Program has produced a kit that consists of four waterproof cards containing photos and basic information on how to spot these organisms. The slates are supplemented by an information booklet that goes into greater detail about the individual species and the program in general. The cards and booklet can be obtained FREE through dive, tackle and boat outlets or by contacting Carl Charter, Feral or in Peril Project Officer:
The best way to report sightings of Feral or In Peril species is via the online database.