Friday, July 16, 2010

Are Coconut Palms Native to Australia?

James Cook, Matthew Flinders, Philip King, Owen Stanley, 1770, 1830, 1848, North Queensland, Chinchilla, the Frankland Islands, Russell Island…Names, dates, places it’s all a bit of a mess and at first glance and it all appears to have very little to do with coconuts!

I will explain.

I’m about to introduce you to some amazing Australian history that will hopefully have you examining your ideas about the humble coconut palm on our Australian shores but before we begin this story let me make a couple of points clear.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Morelia spilota cheynei, the stunning Jungle Carpet Python at Ella Bay

There is no doubt that one of the most beautiful snakes you will find in the rainforests of North Queensland is the Jungle Carpet Python Morelia spilota cheynei.

My friend James Epong (a local Ma:mu aboriginal belonging to the Mandubarra clan group) took this photo and got a few good laughs as it bit me once or twice to thank me for moving it off the road.
James and I had been watching over marine turtle nests near the Ella Bay Road on 12 February 2010 and were returning via the same road when I jammed the brakes on and moved this little beauty off the road.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Mole Crab Albunea symmysta at Bramston Beach North Queensland

I put in a lot of hours walking beaches for three very sound reasons.

Firstly beaches are relaxing places to walk and wind down, secondly the exercise is good for me and last but not least ...

... you just never know what you will find on a beach and the creature I am about to introduce you to is proof of the pudding.
Well there it is, Albunea symmysta in all its glory, but let’s rewind and start at the beginning as that is always a good place to start a story!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cassowary Chicks Lose Their Father…Reports the Innisfail Advocate

Our local paper, The Innisfail Advocate, has published a story about our latest cassowary road death at Mission Beach over the Queens birthday long weekend

Monday, June 14, 2010

Four Endangered Cassowaries Slaughtered over the Last Seven Months on Mission Beach Roads

That’s right, yet another endangered southern cassowary has been killed on North Queensland roads by a motor car.
So again I find myself sitting at my computer writing about another cassowary road death at Mission Beach, North Queensland.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ella Bay Cassowary Family Visit the Beach

Cassowaries often visit the beach at Ella Bay and I have talked about this before in the story Cassowary Scat/Tracks on the Beach in Front of Proposed Ella Bay Resort Complex/Urban Development
Ella Bay cassowaries use the fresh water contained within the natural lagoons that run parallel to the beach.

Of course they also feed from the native fruit trees that grow within this strip of coastal vegetation; native cassowary fruit trees which the proponent’s “Cassowary Assessment of the Ella Bay Integrated Resort Project” untruthfully insists are not present in this area!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service Map of Reported Cassowary Vehicle Strike Deaths

In April 2007 the Queensland government produced a map of known cassowary vehicle strike deaths at Mission Beach.

Sometimes a picture says a thousand words and basically a map is just a picture isn’t it!
Click on image for larger view.

Keep in mind that these are exclusively cassowary vehicle strike deaths and only record the percentage of vehicle strike deaths that are reported.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cowley Beach . . . Looking Back 50 Years at Better Days

Yvonne Cunningham from Innisfail’s Violets and Lace Garden Centre was kind enough to share this story with me and give permission for me to share it with you too.

Of course Yvonne has her own site. This particular story appears in the May edition of her newsletter.
Yvonne has put together some terrific stories and a favourite is called cassowary. I also found a story on burning National Parks very interesting and Yvonne raises some very valid points.

Well once again I have talked too much so I will hand you over to Yvonne without any further ado!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Road Death Rate of Cassowaries at Mission Beach Unsustainable says C4 spokesperson Liz Gallie

I promised an update on the latest Mission Beach cassowary death when the press release arrived so here it is.

10 May 2010 1 x adult female cassowary killed on Mission Beach Roads
20 Dec 2009 1 x adult female cassowary killed on Mission Beach Roads
16 Nov 2009 1 x adult female cassowary killed on Mission Beach Roads

Is anyone starting to see a pattern here?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tragic Cassowary Death Raises Mission Beach Road Toll to an Unacceptable 3 Adult Females in 6 Months

Yet again I find myself sitting in my office receiving news from my friend Liz Gallie at Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation (C4) that the Mission Beach community has lost yet another precious female endangered Southern cassowary.
Here is her email:

Subject: Another adult cassowary death on Mission Beach roads

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Easter Holiday Brings more Foreshore and Dune Damage by Vehicles at Cowley Beach

Cowley Beach Scientist Mr Richard Piper has been an advocate for coastal protection and management at Cowley beach for many years now.After working with Richard (conducting chemical trials in the field under extreme and arduous conditions) I was highly impressed by his cool headed thoroughness and commitment to excellence. I can see why he is so highly regarded by both his scientific and business associates.

As we both have a strong interest in damage to this beautiful beach by totally uncontrolled/unregulated dune and beach driving we often are in touch via email.

I was saddened to be informed by Richard and others of the damage inflicted on this beach over the Easter holidays and am grateful that adverse weather conditions would have reduced the damage to some degree.

I will share a recent letter with you which highlight the frustration we feel as bystanders watching the desecration of this beach whilst council watches on.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cassowary Coast Regional Council Mismanagement at Cowley Beach receives damning report card from DERM Principal Coastal Scientist Sel Sultmann

I sometimes strongly disagree with the management practices of the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management. In my story ‘Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Upset Ma:mu Traditional Owners and Conservationists at Ella Bay’, I was mightily unimpressed with their beach driving antics and lack of consultation with traditional owners.

Well there is another side to the coin and after reading a recent report by DERM Principal Coastal Scientist Sel Sultmann I was very (read extremely) impressed with his work. It seems like DERM have some staff that are well and truly on the ball and Mr Sultmann is one of them.

This report was prepared for the council after Mr Sultmann’s inspection of damage to Cowley Beach on the 15 October 2009. Sadly the document disappeared like a fart in a fan factory and despite repeated requests by Cowley Beach scientist Mr Richard Piper to council for access to this document it never materialised. I was carbon copied in to these emails to councillor Jennifer Downs and other council representatives but for some reason Mr Piper was never given a copy of this report.

Smelling a rat Mr Piper obtained the report via other means and I thought in the interest of transparency and fair play you good people might like to see the contents so here it is… enjoy!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Green Turtles, Crocodiles and Ella Bay

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a new story but trust me I have had a few big fish to fry lately!

Today Ma:mu/Mandubarra traditional owner James Epong and I were fortunate enough to be invited to give a joint presentation on local turtle nesting to the Cassowary Coast Regional Council.

The star of the show was a turtle we called 108 as it was the 108th green turtle hatchling to make its dash for the ocean from a nest only metres away from the Ella Bay Road.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

No fishing zones on Great Barrier Reef have benefited the overall health and resilience of this marine ecosystem

A few months ago I stated my support for a Coral Sea Heritage Park and although I would like to see more powerful bans on oil exploration within this proposed park my opinion has not changed.

Of course you can read the original story ‘Coral Sea Heritage Park - Great news for recreational fisherman!’

Well a bit closer to home than the Coral Sea is the Great Barrier Reef and scientists have recently reported on the reefs protected zones and the report card is good!

Cairns Post journalist Julie Lightfoot drew my attention to this report in her story ‘Plenty of fish in no-go zone seas’ on 25 February 2010.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cassowary Scat/Tracks on the Beach in Front of Proposed Ella Bay Resort Complex/Urban Development

On Sunday 7 February 2010 I decided to go for a beach walk at Ella Bay.
I knew that both Barra Creek and Biggerabarra Creek had broken out to the sea and would block my travel but at the end of the day a short walk is better than no walk at all.

Being cut off from the northern end of the beach was not a problem a few days later when I brought the sea kayak along!

I’m glad I decided to make this trip as I was well rewarded for my enthusiasm as you will soon see.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Original Ella Bay Property Developer Warren Witt in Liquidation and Banned from Industry…Reports the Cairns Post

Talented Cairns Post journalist, Julie Lightfoot has beaten me to the punch once again with this story about disgraced original Ella Bay property developer Mr Warren Witt!
Click on image for larger view

This story is also available on line.

Of course Mr Witt is the property developer who launched the proposed Ella Bay resort complex/urban development and is therefore of some interest to me.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Veteran Cassowary Conservationist Margaret Thorsborne Nominates Southern Cassowary for Father of the Year Award!

Sometimes newspapers print some real tripe!

Today in our local paper I noticed a page 2 headline “Stolen council barrow found at Cardwell jetty” and near wet my pants in excitement!

Fortunately the day was saved by another paper, the Townsville Bulletin, which published this great public interest story! “Let’s hear it for doting dad” by journalist John Andersen is a pearl in an ocean of average today!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Upset Ma:mu Traditional Owners and Conservationists at Ella Bay

This will be a long story as it covers some pretty important topics like, respect for country, traditional owner’s rights, and long term conservation goals.

On 7 January 2010 I was very disappointed to observe two fresh sets of quad bike tracks exiting the Ella Bay Pty Ltd property and travelling north along Ella Bay.
Ella Bay Pty Ltd management and staff have made assurances that they would no longer drive vehicles along this turtle nesting beach.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Pair of White-Bellied Sea-Eagles Haliaeetus leucogaster Eat A Poisonous Toadfish at Ella Bay

Recently I have been communicating with Queensland Parks and Wildlife regarding the methods used and behaviour of their personnel at Ella Bay. This is something I will blog about in the near future. It has caused me to re examine the low impact methods I use to conduct field observations at Ella Bay as I am always seeking ways to do things better!

Whilst looking through my notes and photographs I was reminded of the following interesting observation I made on 12 December 2009. Incidentally this was the same day I first observed Snub fin dolphins at Ella Bay but that’s another story.
During this Ella Bay beach walk I was surprised when I accidentally disturbed a pair of White-bellied Sea-eagles that were on the ground near the high tide mark.

Monday, January 25, 2010

2010 International Year of Biodiversity

As some of you may already know 2010 is International Year of Biodiversity.
The following is the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for the International Year of Biodiversity (2010):

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ella Bay’s Great Grey Ghost: The Great-billed heron Ardea sumatrana

Ella Bay is well known for its biggest bird, the endangered Southern cassowary.

Ella Bay is also home to another huge bird which is even harder to photograph, the Great-billed heron, a wary bird that has evaded my camera on many occasions at Ella Bay!
My own experiences with this bird generally consist of frustrating fleeting glimpses of the tail end of this huge bird disappearing into the mangrove swamps. The Great-billed heron certainly does not like human company and is quick to scoot if disturbed.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The ABC 730 Report Examines Fragmentation and Fencing of Cassowary Habitat at Mission Beach

Ella Bay Pty Ltd wish to fence the 3 kilometre long Ella Bay Road so when I was told there was a cassowary trapped behind a fence at Mission Beach on ABC television you can bet I was interested!
I missed “Endangered Cassowaries Under Threat” on the ABC’s 7.30 report but fortunately the internet came to the rescue and I was impressed by the ABC’s story.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dogs and Cars threaten Australia’s remaining Endangered Southern Cassowaries at places like Mission Beach and Ella Bay

Lately I have blogged a fair bit about recent cassowary deaths due to vehicle strike incidents at Mission Beach in Far North Queensland. The 2 latest killings were hit and run incidents which made me question how many cassowaries are hit by vehicles and simply wander off into the bush to die from their injuries, unnoticed and unrecorded.

Domestic and feral dogs also present a major threat to our endangered cassowaries as noted in a recent brochure released by C4 (Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation)
Liz Gallie from C4 brought this matter to my attention again recently.

World’s largest orchid Grammatophyllum speciosum flowers at Bramston Beach in Australia

Bramston Beach and Ella Bay both have some wonderful native orchid species growing in the wild.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Shark Nets, Sharks, Whales, Marine Fauna, People and Saving Lives . . .

Sharks evoke many emotions in our species from respect and awe, to fear and revulsion, but I must admit I have a sincere fondness for these amazing fish and the important place they occupy in our marine ecosystems.
It sickens me to see shark and ray carcasses left to rot on our beaches by fellow fisherman who possibly feel they are doing us all a favour by ridding the world of these dreadful killers one at a time!

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