Wazzup!! Woo hoo, Phillip Island: natures classroom (my classroom for the next few days). Woke up early for a bit of a stroll and a photo sesh of the sunrise at a nearby beach; got some decent snaps.
First gig on the agenda was Duncan the Ranger, who presented an awesome and informative presentation on the penguins of Phillip Island: very interesting stuff! He explained the plight of the penguins; their population being nastily declined by a housing estate, vicious packs of foxes and feral cats, and a severe (but temporary) decline in their main food source (Pilchards) due to “fish flu” (fish farms and use of antibiotics caused some mega issues). He talked us through the steps taken to rectify the penguin population issues, including removing the housing estate and baiting and snaring foxes. Cheers Duncan!
Next stop was a stroll to one of the nearby beaches and home to the world famous ‘penguin parade’. Phillip Island provides an outstanding backdrop for our fellowship stage, educating us on the creative art (actually, the scientific discipline) of a beach transect, collecting and recording Marine Debris information to contribute to our National data base.
Then a quick blogging lesson before being left off the leash to blog my experiences to date accordingly; so far, so good!
So after another early morning stroll and a bit of breaky (including a very satisfying coffee run), we bundled into the mini bus and pottered off to Cape Woolamai for more transect action. Conditions were wet and windy, which added a moody element to our photos but couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm…
A couple of transects and an emu parade later and we were back on the bus to the volunteer house to document and record our findings.
Recoding our findings involved sorting and sizing the many pieces of plastic we had collected, documenting them accurately on the appropriate paper work, then entering the data into the Marine Debris data base online. After a few minor technical hitches and a margin of human error (to be expected), our clerical work was complete.
Next on the agenda was a crash course in Necropsy… the delicate scienctific art of autopsying an animal. We sliced, diced and hacked (delicately) into two Short-tailed Shearwaters to remove and record the contents of their stomach, gizzard and intestine (focusing on any plastics found).
To seperate out the plastics from the natural bird bits, we used a sieve and jet of water. This revealed an abundance of small plastic pieces…
Samples collected and plastics counted and recorded, our work for the day was done… another interesting and informative day on TeachWild complete!