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Bitou Bush Surveillance UAV trial

Bitou bush has the ability to out compete and smother native coastal dune vegetation.  Infestations within the Great Sandy National Park have been dramatically reduced since the 1980’s, with only isolated plants being found in the field today.

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Where Have All The Birds Gone?

In the last FINIA newsletter, FIDO’s John Sinclair raised concerns about the apparent diminishing number of birds on Fraser Island.  He points to the evidence provided by a group of bird watchers who recorded 65 species of birds in a trip across the island in a 24-hour period in November 1968.  John said that over five days at Easter on the island this year he managed to see or hear only 20 species through the bush and on the beach.

John asked the question: where have the island’s birds gone? Without being too smart, I could say … to the Anderson bird baths at Eurong. (more…)

Eyes All Around – ‘SNAP’ gotcha!

Trail cameras are an integral part of protected area management throughout the world and a useful tool where resources for field observations are limited. Within the Great Sandy National Park, cameras are utilised and applied to the management of threatened fauna species, feral animal activity, compliance and dingo conservation. The process of going through the images can be long and at times surprising, but the rewards are worth it. (more…)

Where has K’gari’s rainfall gone?

Citizen science has an enormous amount to contribute, as recently demonstrated when a Darwin mechanic discovered a new planet.  Similarly, citizen science has a lot to contribute to our understanding of K’gari.  For example, the driest year on record caused my son Keith and I to go poring over rainfall records.  We thought that we would start with doing a detailed examination of Double Island Point, which is the closest place to the island with records going back for more than 100 years.  What we found astonished us; it was a revelation. (more…)

This one’s for the birds…

During the first field trip by the Maryborough and Bundaberg Wildlife Branches to Fraser Island (K’gari) in November 1968, in 24 hours the group positively identified 65 species of birds.  Admittedly, the trip was led by outstanding naturalist and keen birdo, Eric Zillman.

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Ships Ahoy! Research to Focus on Cruise Tourism

Cruise tourism has witnessed unprecedented growth rates amidst greater interest in terms of new destinations and ships with an impressive array of features. There is some agreement within industry that the sector is likely to continue its growth trajectory given that many cruise tourists are sold to the idea of all-inclusive and value-based pricing strategies employed by many operators. (more…)

Monitoring K’gari’s Weather

FIDO has just installed a second online weather station on K’gari at Eurong as part of an ongoing FIDO program to capture weather data from a broader area to assist in environmental monitoring.  Through FIDO’s website, anyone in the world with access to the internet can see the temperature, barometric pressure, wind direction and rainfall at both Happy Valley and Eurong in real time and for the previous 14 days.  FIDO also feeds the data to Weather Underground and the Bureau of Meteorology, where it can also be seen.  They also add FIDO’s weather station input to their permanent storage.

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Mibir (turtle) nesting and hatching on K’gari

Marine turtle season is coming to an end. The adult courting males and nesting females have returned to their home areas from hundreds of kilometres abroad, and hatchlings are emerging from their underground incubation period to embark on their life journey. Only 1 in 1000 make it to maturity, around 35–50 years old.

North Fraser Island (K’gari) has a small turtle rookery with a seasonal night driving curfew, where green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) court and breed, and females deposit their precious cargo of eggs into the dunes before leaving the young to their fate. These eggs (over 70%) also provide seasonal food resources for wildlife, including dingoes.  (more…)

The First K’gari BioBlitz

From 28 November to 4 December 2016, a multidisciplinary team of experienced scientists and enthusiastic amateurs based at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s (USC) Dilli Village Research and Education Centre carried out the first of what are hoped to be regular BioBlitzes to better document the wide range of both plant and animal species on Fraser Island (K’gari).

The BioBlitzes are a kind of ‘natural stocktake’ to develop an inventory of every living thing on K’gari.  They are extremely important on K’gari, because biological values are one of the three natural values for which the island has been inscribed on the World Heritage list.  Criteria (vii) recognises K’gari’s outstanding aesthetic values.  Criteria (viii) recognises the ongoing geological processes which are currently being studied over three years by a team from the University of Queensland.  Criteria (ix) recognises that the island ‘represents an outstanding example of significant ongoing biological processes. These processes, acting on a sand medium, include biological adaptation (such as unusual rainforest succession), and biological evolution (such as the development of rare and biogeographically significant species of plants and animals).   Vegetation associations and succession represented on Fraser Island display an unusual level of complexity, with major changes in floristic and structural composition occurring over very short distances.’  It is this criteria that the BioBlitz was addressing.

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Fraser Island Fauna Survey

Since departing Fraser Island 16 years ago, it was great to get back there earlier this year to renew acquaintanceships with old friends and make some new ones. I was over to assist a good friend and retired herpetologist, Harald Ehmann, to look for the endangered Fraser Island endemic, the Fraser Island Sand Skink Coggeria naufragus. I was on the island from the 8-13 February this year and Harald three days longer.

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