G’day from Fotho
Click on the photos to enlarge !!
After a short 12 hr drive south from Wollongong along the gorgeous NSW coast and across Victoria, I arrived at Phillip Island and met up with our Earthwatch TeachWild mentors Geraldine and Denise and the rest of the TeachWild Team who had also journeyed from all over the country; Anna (Vic), Bruce (Qld), Jen (Vic), Sam (SA), Tonia (WA) and Zina (Tas).
Our first night was a trip to the Penguin Parade and we were accompanied by Graeme who works in the Phillip Island Nature Park, providing us with a most informative talk about the tourism, monitoring and management aspects of the penguins.
After an introduction to the program background by Denise we walked across to “Penguin Central” at Summerland Bay to learn how to carry out the TeachWild Marine Debris Survey. Weather was kind !! (only strong winds and not too cold)
Off to Smith’s Beach this morning to do “emu parade” and plastic debris collection
Now know what a “NURDLE” is !!!!!
Back to the research centre and sort out the rubbish based on its size and material type !!
After a most scumtious lunch prepared by master chefs Fotho and Jen, we investigated the chemical composition of some of our plastic samples based on their buoyancy properties. Observing if the plastic floats or sinks in water, 50% ethanol or 55% ethanol and following a flow chart allowed us to identify Styrofoam, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) and Polypropylene (PP).
Tonight we’re off to check out a local shearwater colony, collect data and do some banding. Should be fun…….
We “tagged” along (ha!) with Doug and Brian from “VORG” (Victorian Ornithological Research Group) and checked out the nesting boxes in the local colony. They were hoping to find birds with data loggers and tags attached and to tag some new birds.
Denise was also collecting data for her research. Birds were weighed, beak and leg measurements taken and pectoral muscle felt to ascertain condition. Oil samples from the preening gland were taken to test for the presence of plasticisers.
We were fortunate enough to assist with the data collection and it was really cool to be able to handle the birds.
Oh yeah, and Geraldine found the cutest frog !!
Scalpel, clamp, scissors, gizzards ‘n guts ………….. What else but bird necropsies !!!!
Shearwaters, Magpie and a Little Penguin went under the skilled knife of Denise and the not so skilled knives of the rest of us. We did find several plastic pellets in the stomach, crop and intestines of the birds.
After a Penguin Preso from Andre, and a salubrious sandwich, we categorised and measured the ingested plastic from the morning necropsies before heading off to the Nobbies for an arvo adventure……..
Our final adventure was a sunset walk to Cape Woolamai to await the arrival of the shearwaters. This was awesome !!! They really “snuck up on us”. One minute there were a few flying around the cliff tops then “WHAM” there were hundreds !!!
After the obligatory “full team” photo it was time to hit the road.
T’was a truly great few days, learnt heaps, had a ball !!
Thanks Geraldine and Denise, and our TeachWild Team.
Fotho (Brendon Fotheringham)
STOP PRESS !!!!!!!
I had the most eventful trip home ……….
First my eyes were playing tricks on me and then I got held up at gunpoint !!
My car decides to call it quits somewhere on the Hume Highway !!
I don’t think that hole in the engine block should be there !!??!!
“Fotho’s Subi blew out its ‘Tucker Box’ – 100 miles from Gundagai”
Still had a great time !!
So long and thanks for all the fish….