Phillip Island

Everything about this post is very small: it’s very short because I only have a few minutes, and it’s about little penguins. That’s what they’re called: Little Penguins.

Little penguins live along the coast of New Zealand and the south of Australia, and are, as advertised, not very big. They’re about the size of a chicken or duck, if not smaller.

I’ve seen them both at Melbourne Zoo and at Phillip Island, an island close to Melbourne. At Phillip Island, you can even watch the penguins on their “penguin parade“, when they return to the island at night. You’re not allowed to photograph them, so it’s hard to find pictures of it online, but someone uploaded an old video to YouTube:

Adorableness starts about a minute in, and then gets increasingly cuter as the penguins get closer.

Uluru and Kata Tjuta

I’ve been busy lately, as you may have noticed by my lack of posts. I desperately need a vacation, but since that’s not an option, I can look at some of my favourite photos of previous vacations. Like this photo of sunrise at Uluru:

Sunrise at Uluru

Uluru is the iconic enormous rock that sits all by itself in the middle of the Australian desert. It looks so imposing and out of place that you can’t help but wonder how it got there. Australia’s indigenous people have had explanations for the rock for ages, all involving spiritual stories. Both a government website and the site of the local tourist resort are unable to share those tales, though, because the stories are restricted by sacred rules. Luckily for us, geologists are more forthcoming with their interpretations about the origin of Uluru, as well as the neighbouring rock formation Kata Tjuta. Continue reading “Uluru and Kata Tjuta”

Great Barrier Reef

IMG_8468Are there places where science tourists shouldn’t go? Sometimes, visiting a destination also affects that destination. In a forest, it’s easy to minimize the damage: stay on the paths, pick up garbage, don’t scare the animals. But what if the place you want to visit is delicate, and has no paths to stay on – like a coral reef?

The Great Barrier Reef runs along the coast of Queensland and is the largest “superorganism” on earth (It can be seen from space, but, honestly, what can’t be seen from space these days). Even though it’s quite a distance from shore, it’s visited yearly by more than a million tourists and brings in several billion dollars each year. Continue reading “Great Barrier Reef”

Meet the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect

Photo credit: Rod Morris http://www.rodmorris.co.nz

Dryoceocelus australis lives solely on an island group in Australia. They were thought to be extinct after 1930 until two dozen were spotted again in 2001. The IUCN lists them as critically endangered currently.

Read more here about the conservation efforts by zoos in Australia to ensure the species survival.

Pair bonding between the male and females has been reported, but is not definitive. Anecdotal evidence suggests the Lord Howe stick insects are gregarious and thus finding a male and female together may just be the expression of this trait. Research from Patrick Honan in 2008, examined 9 pairs from the Melbourne Zoo found that the behavior was consistent for each pair daily, but varied depending on the pair. Some pairs were always found together, but in some cases the female would be found in the nesting box and the male outside the nesting box.

Finally, here is an amazing video of hatching Lord Howe island stick insects from Zoos Victoria if you haven’t seen it already.

Lord Howe Island Stick Insect hatching from Zoos Victoria on Vimeo.

“Meet the…” is a collaboration between The Finch & Pea and Nature Afield to bring Nature’s amazing creatures into your home.