arrived this morning on Stradbroke Island off the coast of Queensland. Fabulous weather (especially after the horrid weather we’ve been having lately!). On the ferry trip over we saw both dugongs (do a google images if you’re not sure what that is!) and dolphins which swam alongside the ferry….nice!
Met all the other teachers from around Australia who have been lucky enough to come to the island for the week and swapped stories about how fabulous our students are and what great teachers we are (lol). We were then inducted onto the research station which is run by the University of Queensland. Part of the induction was showing us 2 short videos and….exciting!!!…one was the one that our enviro students made to launch the Teach Wild Project last year in Perth…..the other was a catalyst (ABC program) called ‘Plastic Oceans’ which again Clonard students were in and also staring Mrs McMahon.
After lunch we headed out on the boat to collect data on the decomposition rates of turtles. This is Hanna’s project who is doing an honours year after finishing her science degree. She is hoping that her research will help to determine how long turtles are trapped in ghost nets before their remains disappear. It will also help to back track the nets, using models of the currents, to try and establish where the ghost nets have come from.
Hannah collects dead turtles from zoos and wildlife services and freezes them until she is ready to use them. She then attaches them to a buoy that suspends them beneath the surface of the water. After a few days she pulls them up and notes their state of decomposition….smelly work but…somebodies got to do it!
very brief description of what we did yesterday as we have to head off to the beach!!! Its a hard life sometimes!
We spent the morning dissecting birds which had died from various causes. The aim was to try and work out how they had died and if they had any plastic in their guts. We had pelicans, prions (cute little guys) and gulls.
Leanne did the first one which was a gull. It had a piece of fishing line coming out its mouth so we knew there was something in its gut but not quite sure what. It turned out to be a very large fishing hook!! Poor bird. My little guy had a stomach full of small stones…go figure?! One of the birds had a small amount of plastic in their gut but most just had smelly fishy stuff!
Leanne has done over 300 necropsies so far this year and is collecting data in order to determine which birds are eating plastic and what sort of plastics are being eaten. Guess what…..balloons are a biggy.
In the afternoon we were back out on the boat pulling up stinky turtles and trying to stay out of the turtle juice. One of the turtles had turned all gelatinous which was really wierd. Will add some photos later.
had another fabulous day today. Thanks Bree, Taylah and Nahill for your comments. Bree and Taylah……I don’t know what any of that means!! Lucky I know you love me!!
This morning we spent 3 hours doing beach transects which are being used to determine what sorts of rubbish are being washed up and where on the beach it is accumulating. I was blown away by how much rubbish was on this really isolated beach on the island. There were glow sticks, candles, tyres, clothes pegs, lots of plastic water bottles and masses of polystyrene. After we had collected our data we were able to enjoy a swim in the beautiful clean blue water. Jealous yet?
After lunch we went out on the boat again to check the stinky turtles….they’re not getting any better that’s for sure!! Most of them have now turned pretty much to turtle soup and one had its eye falling down its face ( hope you all sleep well tonight!). My job was to photograph any of the deterioration in the turtle carcass and pay particular attention to the grossest bits. I’m getting good at holding my breath when going in for a close up!
Yesterday one of the turtle cages got wrapped around the boat propeller so Kathy had to jump in to the water with the stinky turtle to untangle it. Lucky she was brave…I wasn’t so keen!
Tonight we have been entering the data that we collected on the beach. It goes onto a website that analyses the data that has been entered into from schools all over Australia….perhaps we should have a go…let me know what you think.
Will try and enter more photos tomorrow