The Brisbane-based creator of the popular Swamp cartoon has lent his skills to help in the fight against a marauding sea pest.
The Brisbane-based creator of the popular Swamp cartoon has lent his skills to help in the fight against a marauding sea pest. Rae Wilson

Cartoon's fight against sea pest

The Brisbane-based creator of the popular Swamp cartoon has lent his skills to help in the fight against a marauding sea pest.  

Gary Clark, who draws the Swamp cartoon for this publication, has had his work used in a first animated cartoon video to help people understand the problem invasive sea urchins are creating around Tasmania.  

A new study shows that the number of long-spined sea urchins on reefs along Tasmania's East Coast has exploded to nearly 20 million from 11 million in 2001. The first urchin was found in 1978.  

Urchins, which feast of kelp beds, have been growing at the equivalent of 170 tonnes a year.  

Mr Clark said taking cartooning to video animation was a new experience.

He did almost everything -- from the script, storyboard, most character images and backgrounds - for the seven-minute video. He was asked to get involved because the makers of the animated documentary were fans of the Swamp.  

''I have only (before this) worked on a  couple of short 1 minute clips where I produced a storyboard and the cartoon images for the animator,'' Mr Clark said.  

''I am currently working on a short animated educational film for the Queensland State Government to highlight Biosecurity issues and practice.''  

The urchin explosion, the study from the University of Tasmania and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies says, means they now cover 15% of reefs in Tasmania, and warmer waters are driving the phenomenon.  

Rock lobsters prey on urchins, and growing their numbers in Tasmania is the key to stopping the explosion.  

"The measures underway include increasing the abundance of rock lobster on the East Coast by cutting the commercial and recreational catch, and translocating lobsters from the south west to the East Coast to accelerate population rebuilding,'' principal investigator Dr Scott Ling said.  

About 100 tonnes of urchins are also caught for human consumption each year.  

Watch the trailer of Mr Clark's video:



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