Saturday, December 3, 2011

a few birds from outback Australia's Northern territory .



                                                pacific bazza

                                kites (above photos)


Reptiles Outback Australia Aug2011

The photos in this post were taken in a few different places. The lizard above is a Central Bearded Dragon, taken at Innaimcka which is in the NE corner of SA. The very black chin or beard area shows that this is a fully mature lizard.

Central Bearded Dragon, Innamincka SA.

I found this goanna near the Cooper Creek at Innamincka as well. It is a Sand Goanna. Identifying feature of this goanna is the yellow tip on its tail. The next two photos are of the same species.

The next few photos are of an Olive python just after it has had a feed. This was a very long and thick bodied snake. They are common in tropical wetlands of Australia. This snake was near Mt Isa in Qld, in a flooded area.

The bulge is its last meal, it looked about the size of a rabbit.

It left to swim in the water as the temperature began to soar.

Esturine Crocodile, Corroboree Billabong. These crocs are maneaters, given the chance. (also called saltwater crocs - or saltys, and they are found in the sea,  but this is a misnomer as they are equally happy and common in freshwater).   Full grown ones are huge. Mature males can be 6m in lenght and wiegh a thousand pounds or over 400kg. They have over 60 teeth and unlike us as they lose one, another one grows! They dont chew their food, the teeth are for grabing and tearing. Their teeth are conical shaped. The skin on their back has bony plates in it and is aparantly almost impossible to pierce.

The next shots are of  freshwater crocs, which aren't considered particularly dangerous to people. The difference between the two that is readily visible is that the freshwater crocs have a much narrower snout. Im pretty sure that the folowing pictures are freshwater crocodiles. These photos were taken at a waterhole called Corroborre Billabong, situated on the boundry of Kakadu NP, NT. All of these crocodile pictures were taken from the safety of a boat.

This a dragon lizard, a common species in the NT. They can run very fast if startled. They also have a habit that is fun to watch. They wave with one of their front legs, it has a nickname of the tata lizard. This one was at Nitmiluk NP, near Katherine,NT. The common name for this dragon is Gilbert's Dragon.

The dragon below was taken at Lorella Springs, NT. on a dry rocky stream bed. It had very pretty markings. It is a Ring-tailed Dragon.

The next shot is a pair of mature Gilbert's Dragons fighting. It was very quick and it was a bit like wrestling in that once the winner had pinned the shoulders of its rival to the ground, it was all over. It released the loser which ran away as soon as it was able.

These photos are of a Merten's Water Monitor. While some of the other monitor lizard numbers are declining due to eating the poisonous cane toads, water monitors seem to not have included them in their diets. It has been suggested that it is because they hunt in water and feed on the frogs, insects and crustaceans they find instead.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Seaweed of Port Phillip Bay. ...more intersting than you might think!

I recently had the oportunity to take part in a seaweed study trip in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. We collected a small sample and examined it. We were very lucky to have to highly educated specialists in the field go with us and teach a little of what they know. Gerry has a phd in seaweed study and is very good at identifying visually the plants whereras Huron, the other specailist with us had been working on a project where he was unlocking the DNA codes of algae, this allows us to find out about how closely species are related. There have been surprising results.
Apart from the coastline along Japan, Australias southeren coast has the highest diversity and endism of seaweed any where in the world. And while japans coast is north/south orientation, it has tropical and temperate water so you would expect there to be a diverse range of seaweeds. Our southern coast is temperate so it is of interest to scientists as to why there is so much variation. This is my friend Anne, sorting through the weed we sampled. There are three main types. They are classified by colour: Browns, greens and reds. Sounds straight forward enough. The first thing we learnt was that just because it looks brown...doesnt necessarily mean its a brown seaweed, and same for the others to. The second thing we learnt, jsut because two weeds look different in colour or shape doesnt mean they are'nt the same. Their form might depend on the depth they are growing at or by how much light they get. ...Confused yet? I started to find that even the simplest things I thought I knew about weed were wrong. There are not alot of experts in this field and there are alot of different species to study.

There are many good reasons for finding out more about algae. Seaweeds are used for foods and medicines and with an estimated min 6000 species world wide there is still a lot to be discovered. It is a common ingredient in things like ice cream and toothpaste, not that you can tell.

This is a decorator crab. They "plant" live weed on themselves which gives them great camoflauge. They are a very gentle crab with tiny claws, much to small to hurt a person.

This is bryozoan, a colonial tiny animals. you are looking at thousands of them in this picture. This colony is growing on Kelp.

The curly tendrils on this weed are one of the types of features that specialsit use to identify species.

These two picture are the little decorator crab at the top of this post. amongst the seaweed they are almost impossible to see. Its only when they move that you notice them.

This one has an almost beaded appearance.

The little balls are like little balloons, it helps weed float nearer the surface.
Some of the patterns that the tips form remind me of looking at fractal patterns.

This known as Sea Lettuce, its edible, but I found it left a really strong after taste so Im not sure I will be adding this to my diet in a big way.