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Waterbug Census

5 September 2017
Audio described version


Narrator – N1 (Priya Crawford-Wilson)


[on-screen text: Waterbug Census. Waterwatch. Victoria State Government logo. Melbourne Water logo.]

N1: Getting involved in the Waterbug Census is a great way for communities to monitor their local waterway.

[Footage of a community member collecting a waterbug sample with a net in the creek]

N1: The information collected through the census also helps Melbourne Water to track the health of our waterways and contributes to ongoing research.

[Footage of a community member writing information on a data sheet. A community member emptying sample of waterbugs into a bucket.]

N1: Waterbugs or macroinvertebrates are small animals that live in the water. They are large enough to see with the naked eye and don’t have a backbone. These are things like crustaceans, molluscs and insects.

[Footage of waterbugs under water on rocks in the flow of a waterway]

N1: Waterbugs are amazing animals because they are a living representation of the health of our waterways. They are also an important part of the food chain for animals such as fish, frogs and platypus.

[Footage of waterways and platypus]

N1: Different waterbugs have different sensitivities to pollution, so they are an excellent indicator of river health. For example, if there are negative changes in the health of the waterway sensitive bugs will disappear indicating that the ecosystem is impacted.

[Footage of waterbugs underwater in flow of waterway]

N1: Monitoring waterbugs is very easy. We use a net to collect waterbugs and put them into the bucket. Waterbugs like to live in different habitats, so we need to ensure that we take a thorough sample at the site. We use a sweep sample to collect bugs from the edges and vegetation and then we use a kick sample to collect bugs from around rocks and in the sediment or sandy bottom of the waterway.

[Footage of community member and Melbourne Water staff member collecting waterbug samples with a net in the waterway.] 

N1: Once we have collected our sample we pour them into trays, so that we can have a better look at the waterbugs we have collected. We pick through the sample and try to pick out all of the different waterbugs. Using ice cube trays is helpful to look at the bugs up close.

[Footage of school students looking through trays of waterbugs. Waterbugs up close in ice cube trays.]

N1: Once we have picked out all the different waterbugs, we start to identify what we have collected. Using poster charts and the waterbug key we look at the features of the animals collected. The key will provide a series of options that will guide us to the bug we are identifying. Once we have identified our waterbug we mark it down on our data sheet.

[Footage of school students looking at waterbug chart and community members looking at the waterbug key]

N1: From this sheet we can calculate a sensitivity rating for the waterbugs that we’ve collected. This information helps to assess the condition of the waterway and can show you more about your local environment.

[Footage of waterbugs under water on rocks in the flow of a waterway]

N1: If you are interested in getting involved in the Waterbug Census contact Waterwatch or visit the Melbourne Water website for more details.

[on screen text www.melbournewater.com.au/waterwatch]

[on screen text: Melbourne Water logo. © Gregg Brown 2016.]