Day 2:9 October We woke up to some strong gusts of wind in the morning but otherwise the weather was beautiful. After breakfast we listened to a presentation outlining the goals of the marine debris project and how we can involve our schools. After a short break we headed off to the penguin parade beach area to conduct a transect. I learned some important terms and skills in collecting the data. Along the beach we found a dead shearwater bird which appeared to have recently died. A necropsy will help us determine the cause of death.
In the evening we watched a very interesting documentary called ‘Bag it.’ It evoked many emotions and
made me more aware of just how much we rely on plastics – which is a concern for our environment but also our health and the health of our unborn babies.
Day 3: Thursday 10 October
We headed to Smith’s beach this morning to conduct an Emu parade. This beach looked beautiful and very clean but once we finished our collection of debris we realised just how wrong we were. There were so many nurdles!! When we arrived back at the house we sorted all our debris into class size, type and colour.
At night we got our warm gear on and went for a short walk from the house to check the 30 nesting boxes for the shearwater birds. We only found a few in their boxes but we caught a couple that were roaming around. We weighed them, and took measurements of the Cullen, wing and tarsus. Denise also did the tricky job of taking a swab from their oil gland. Thankfully the rain came just in time as we were heading back.
Day 4: Friday 11 October
This morning we conducted a necropsy on the birds that had been found dead on the island. There were three shearwaters, a magpie, and a little penguin. The most surprising part was just how long the digestive tract of the little penguin was compared to the other bird. We examined the stomach, crop and intestines of each bird as well as took measurements similar to that done the night before. We found small class size 1 plastics in most of the birds and kept them for floatation experiments and recording.
At midday we listening to Andre ( one of the scientists on phillip island) talk about his research which is focused on penguins at sea. After some data entry we headed quickly to the nobbies beach for some sightseeing and picture taking- what a beautiful beach but I’d hate to be out there as the waves were fully pumping!
After a scrumptious dinner made by Bruce, Sam and myself we headed to Cape woolamai before it got dark so we could see the shearwaters return to their nesting sites. I loved this spot and seeing all the birds come in was AMAZING. I had never seen anything like it before, they were quiet as they flew over to find their burrow. Apparently after travelling as far as Japan they come back and just find their own burrow out of all the other ones which look exactly the same to me. We had set out to swab the shearwaters but because so few of them were there we decided to leave it for another time.