Where do pipis go when they are left alone on the beach? They spend most of their time just living under the sand, right? Or maybe not. 

Scientists from the University of Melbourne want to find out when they release 2000 pipis adorned with small, colourful plastic tags at Venus Bay on Friday.

 The challenge for the scientists and members of this South Gippsland community, who have been invited to join in, is to find as many of the liberated molluscs as they can in two hours.

 People can also report any tagged pipis collected over the next year to a special Pipi Hotline. This valuable information about the pipis’ movements will help scientists uncover some pipi secrets and help determine whether current recreational collection practices are sustainable.

 University of Melbourne scientists want to find out whether too many pipis are being collected for lunch or dinner or to use as fishing bait, a question that has been raised in Venus Bay.

 “We know that harvesting affects all fished species, be they snapper or pipis. The challenge faced by fisheries managers worldwide is determining how much we can harvest and still maintain viable populations,” says Dr John Morrongiello, from the School of Biosciences at the University of Melbourne.

 “We also know that natural environmental variation plays an important role in shaping populations. Here, we basically want to know what drives the pipi population to go up and down, and how can we use this information to better inform management?” 

 With funding from the Victorian Government’s Recreational Fishing Grants Program, Dr Morrongiello is conducting three-year study that monitors the population health of these edible bivalve molluscs to help formulate a long-term management plan for them.

 “Pipis don’t have legs or fins, but we know they can move. Are they moving big distances or short distances? How many are out there? How long do they survive? These are all key questions that need answering” Dr Morrongiello says.

 The Great Pipi Hunt will provide an opportunity for locals and visitors to come out of their shells and help ensure a sustainable future for this much-loved mollusc.

 WHEN: Friday, January 6, 10.30 am – 1.00 pm.

WHERE: The Venus bay Surf Lifesaving Club, Beach No. 1. Register online @summerbythesea.vic.gov.au

BRING: Hat, sun cream, water and container for pipi collection.

ENQUIRIES: 0429 842 142

CONTACT: Dr John Morrongiello | 0403 338 554 |  '; // -->  |