Day 1 Tuesday 9/4/13
Arrived at Phillip Island Volunteer House at 3.00 pm. Induction involved getting to know everyone on the team over a lovely vegetarian dinner.
Day 2 Wednesday 10/4/13
We started the day with a very interesting presentation enlightening us on recent research on the penguin colony at the Phillip Island Nature Park at Summerland Bay by Duncan Sutherland.
We were then taken through the methodology for the beach survey at Summerland Beach in front of the penguin colony. This involved completing transect studies and an emu parade as we meticulously collected data on marine debris. WIN TV took photos for the evening news and interviewed some of our researchers. In the afternoon we were given a presentation by Dr Denise Hardesty on the background to the marine debris program and the impact that marine debris has on wildlife. In the evening we were given the unique opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Penguin Parade and speak with the ranger in the ‘skybox’ that overlooked the penguins as they returned to their nest boxes to feed their chicks.
Day 3 Thursday 11/4/13
We started the day with another beach survey at Cape Woolamai. This involved completing both transect studies and emu parades. Weather was deteriorating as we arrived and we all got pretty wet but we did manage to collect some very interesting marine debris (fishing nets, rope, polystyrene and plenty of hard plastic). After lunch we started our necropsies on two long dead Shearwaters and two recent dead birds. The gut contents revealed a disturbing collection of plastic waste. One bird had so many pieces of plastic in its gut that it may have died from this ingestion. Dr Rebecca Overeem spoke to us about her PhD on penguins. She was researching the genetic differences between penguin colonies at Phillip Island, at Middle Island near Warnambool and Kangaroo Island.
Day 4 Friday 12/4/13
After an early morning walk to Swan Lake to see some wetland birds, the day began with the team carrying out necropsies on a penguin and a number of dead Shearwaters. Some of these birds had ingested plastic fragments, as these were present in the gut contents. After lunch we were given a very interesting presentation on Seal entanglement at Seal Rocks. Research studies have shown that juvenile seals are far more susceptible to entanglement in nets compared to adults. Females are more likely to be entangled than males, so it might be connected to body weight as males, which weigh around 200 kg are twice as heavy as female, which weigh around 110 kg. Interestingly, green twine fishing nets had a more serious impact on seals when compared to monofilament fishing line. After the presentation we visited Smith’s Beach to complete more beach marine debris surveys. This included both transect data and emu parade data. We finished the day with a visit to the Nobbies, a delicious dinner after which we completed our scientific data entry in the evening.
Day 5 Saturday 13/4/13
After an early morning visit to Cape Woolamai Beach to see the Shearwater colony we returned to the Volunteer House for breakfast and clean-up. We shared our photos of the whole exciting week and completed our blog pages. We also reflected on the weeks activities and shared other resources with each other. The whole week was filled with science learning experiences we all felt were of immeasurable professional value for us as educators and the interpersonal contact and collaboration that each of us had will be carried back into our respective schools to enrich the learning experiences of our students.