Friday 29 January 2021
The Youth Reference Group went on a fieldtrip to Penguin Island to experience a snap shot of the coastal and marine flora and fauna as well as the issues faced by our fragile coastal habitats. It was the first time that the group was able to get together face-to-face and a great opportunity for shared team experience.
We cruised over the island’s most important organism, the seagrass meadows! The seagrass helps to stabilise the sand, is a habitat for marine life and is an amazing natural carbon sink that can help combat climate change. The wildlife cruise took us past some of the rocky islands and gave everyone the opportunity to see Bridal Terns, Ospreys, dolphins and Australian Sea Lions. The on-board guide kept a running commentary on the wildlife we encountered.
At the island, we went on a nature walk (called a ‘Waddle’) to see the pelican rookeries, penguin nest boxes, coastal plant trials and found out about the challenges of managing people and pests on Penguin Island. It was amazing to see fossilised tree root systems in the limestone and to learn that the island was once part of the mainland, when the sea level was lower.
After the ‘Waddle’ the group was able to see the island’s rescued penguins up close during the penguin feeding session. We saw them in and out of the water, watched them feed and learnt about their amazing adaptations for survival.
When we returned to the mainland the group took turns to take their own coastal photo at the CoastSnap WA photo point. All of the photos contributed to an image database to track changes in the coastline as part of the CoastSnap Citizen Science project. We continued to make our conservation contributions by running our own mini beach clean-up. The group collected over 70 pieces of rubbish near the Mersey Point jetty in about 15 mins. This worked out to be 2.2 kg, with many of the smaller pieces being in the size range that many marine animals might mistake for food. The data from the beach clean-up will feed into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative’s national database.
Looking forward to our next catch-up.