We started the day with a seminar on the Phillip Island Penguin research centre. It was very interesting to know that there has been research on the Little Penguins for 44 years.
I will be hopefully getting a copy of the powerpoint of the presentation this morning. It contains a complete food chain of the Little Penguins which will be great to integrate into the Marine Science course showing the full interaction of the species in the web. It was also interesting to find out that there was in introduced virus that decimated the pilchard population around Australia which then effected the penguin population. In the years 1996-8, the fledgling survival rate was nearly zero.
After this presentation we went to the beach at the Phillip Island Penguin parade and conducted transects looking for plastic debris. Of the two transects I was involved in we found only 2 pieces of rope. However, at the end of the transects, we did an Emu Parade of 50 metres of the beach. I was amazed at the amount of rubbish that we found on a beach that does not have public access.
We started the day at Woolamai Beach doing transects. During these transects we found an amazing array of rubbish on the beach. I was surprised to see the amount of surf board wax in a 40 metre long transect. I was also surprised with the amount of balloons and pieces of rope.
During lunch we had a visit from Dr Rebecca Overeem, the Phillip Island Nature Parks Education manager discuss her research that she did for her doctorate and also her current work with students from early primary up through tertiary.
In the early afternoon we uploaded our data from the transects from today and yesterday to the teachwild website.
By late afternoon we started the necropsies on the Short-Tailed Shearwater birds that have been collected in the last 6 months. The birds had been frozen so that the research could be conducted on them. The first two birds were very decomposed and smelly. In both of these birds there was evidence of plastic in the abdomen. The next two birds were not decomposed, so that the necropsies were more detailed. The bird I was photographing had a small piece of black plastic in its intestine. In the stomach there was also a small piece of plastic, but also several balls of some unknown origin. Denise believes that it could possibly be poly-styrene balls. The fourth bird had several pieces of plastic in its stomach.
Just between the gloved fingers there is a piece of plastic that this bird had ingested.
The day started with the necroscopies of the remaining Shearwater birds. I performed my first necroscopy today. My bird died at the Penguin Island vet hospital. It must have been hit by a car as there was a lot of blood around the beak. When performing the necroscopy there is a lot of information that must be collected, 4 different beak measurements are taken and the wing length is also measured, then the task of emptying the entire digestive system.
The crop, stomach and intestines are examined separately. The task is smelly, and best completed using water to flush all of the partially digested food out so that leaves any large pieces that need to be examined. For the bird that I did, the crop had an irregular shaped stone. This would have aided digestion. The stomach had a small piece of plastic.
In the afternoon, we went to Smith’s beach and did several transects to collect data on the amount of rubbish on the beach. There most common type of rubbish was cigarette butts and surf wax. Smith’s beach is a busy beach as there were close to 90 people there in the late afternoon. After the data was collected it was then uploaded to the CSIRO’s database.