Wildlife Galore!

Today I was on the other research boat 'Glaucus' which is just a little bigger than 'Pelagia' the boat I was on yesterday. We were focussing on surveying the different species of animals that live in the seagrass meadows.

Moreton Bay is a large Marine Park which means part of it is protected from fishing and dredging. The government needs to know which animals live there so that they can create laws that protect them. To survey these animals we used Go-Pro cameras connected to a brick, so that it was heavy enough to sit on the bottom. The cameras needed to be placed on a seagrass bed  and left with some yummy bait for around an hour. Then we would go back to collect them.

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The cameras we used to capture underwater
footage.

 

Go-Pros don't have a screen like a normal camera and so we needed to wait until we were back at the research station to watch the footage and see what kinds of animals we captured on film. We set about 5 groups of cameras throughout the day and while we were waiting for the hour to be up we went and had a look around the bay. There are several amazing coral reefs in Moreton Bay and we spent some time snorkelling there. We also went looking for Dugongs and sea turtles. We saw around 15 sea turtles, some were over 1m in length. Finally we saw one Dugong surfacing so we stopped the engines on the boat (to make sure we wouldn't hurt the Dugong accidently) and waited quietly to see if it would surface again. After around 5 minutes another dugong (a mother and calf) surfaced to our right, and then another to our left! We realised we were in the middle of a herd of Dugongs! It was absolutely incredible and our skipper, Paul, told us that there were around 30 Dugongs in the herd and that it is really rare to see so many at once. It was so hard to photograph the Dugongs because they come up very quickly to breathe and then disappear back down again. I didn't get a good photo but I found one online so that you can at least see what they look like.

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A coral reef we snorkelled at Glaucus An island we stopped to look at A Dugong (image from Google)

 

On our way home we past by a place called Amity Banks and we stopped at a seagrass meadow which has been left exposed by the tide. We walked out over it and found lots of Swimmer Crabs and sea cucumbers. One of the other teachers in my group even saw an eagle ray jumping out of the water!

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All of the research boats are marked so that
Park Rangers know why they are in restricted
zones.
A storm brewing over the seagrass at Amity
Banks.

 

Once we were back at the research station we spent some time downloading the Go-Pro footage onto the computers and watching the hours of video we had collected. Most of our footage showed several species of fish, lots of crabs and the occasional sea turtle all having a nibble on the bait we had set. We had been watching the footage for quite some time and were really surprised when a Whaler Shark circled past in the distance. We were even more surprised when it came back again and had a go at our bait! It was about 4ft long and we are still trying to identify the exact type of Whaler Shark it was. We think it was probably a Dusky Whaler. Hopefully we see more sharks on the cameras soon! I'll be able to put the footage of the shark up here tomorrow once I put it on my laptop.

All of the footage we collected today has proven just how many creatures rely on the seagrass meadows in Moreton Bay. It certainly is a very important place to protect!