Pungalina Field Trip Report from :
Gen Perkins, Justin Perry, Eric Vanderduys, Anders Zimny. CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Townsville.
In late June, the CES Biodiversity Group based in Townsville, packed up their traps, swags, quad-bikes and pushbikes and headed to the NT to participate in the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland’s (RGSQ) 2012 scientific study.
This took place on Pungalina-Seven Emu, two adjacent properties owned by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC).
The purpose of these RGSQ studies is to get researchers from a wide range of disciplines together to gather as much data about a (remote) area as possible. RGSQ look after the logistics – the researchers look after their area of expertise. The data collected will add to AWC’s understanding of biodiversity on Pungalina-Seven Emu and help contribute to the conservation and management of the property.
Pungalina-Seven Emu is located on the coast in the Gulf of Carpentaria (see above) and has an incredibly diverse range of habitats including coastal mangroves and salt flats, dune rainforests, paperbark swamps, tall eucalypt woodlands as well as low spinifex covered sandstone escarpments.
The team spent two weeks exploring the range of habitats within the 306,000ha property and documenting terrestrial vertebrate species – birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
Despite the tropical landscape, it was cold (down to 4oC on some nights!) which reduced animal activity to some extent. Nevertheless, the team found at least 147 vertebrate species, including the very restricted, poorly known and vulnerable Carpentarian Pseudantechinus (Pseudantechinus mimulus), the vulnerable Ghost Bat (Australia’s largest predatory bat), and one, possibly two, new species of lizard.
They managed to keep their distance from some particularly large “lizards” which inhabit the waters of the Gulf!
A 20-metre South African yacht chartered by CSIRO has completed an epic voyage around the Indian Ocean deploying 55 ocean profiling robots to gather ocean and climate data.
The Lady Amber reached Fremantle last week ending a six-month voyage during which she deployed the profiling Argo robotic sensors that will communicate as mid-ocean climate sentinels for at least the next 5-7 years.
Additional sensors have also been deployed during this period by the Royal Australian Navy and US Navy east of the Horn of Africa in a region of the Indian Ocean frequented by pirates. Story HERE.
Although the Argo project offers significant shipping and defence benefits, its primary objective is to monitor ocean heat and salinity patterns that drive the climate and monsoonal systems which bring rain to Australia. The Indian Ocean is a critical source of rainfall for southern and western Australia, and CSIRO has responsibility for deployment of the robotic instruments in much of the Indian Ocean.
Over 30 nations contribute to the multimillion dollar Argo project, in which over 3000 robotic instruments provide near real-time observations of conditions such as heat and salinity in the top 2000 metres of the ocean.
At nearly two metres in length the drifting profilers, or ‘floats’, are programmed to drift at 1000m for 10 days, then descend to 2000m and then sample as they ascend to the surface to upload their data to satellites.
The program is managed through the UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organisation – Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology. CSIRO’s contribution is through the Wealth from Oceans Research Flagship.
The Perth-based head of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission office in Australia, Dr Nick D’Adamo said Lady Amber’s contribution to scientific understanding of ocean and climate processes cannot be overstated.
“These Indian Ocean observations also dovetail with Australia’s own Integrated Marine Observing System and play a vital role in supporting State-based marine scientific programs critical for Western Australia, across both public and private industry imperatives.
“Australia is the second largest national contributor to the global Argo program deploying more than 490 sensors in the Indian and Southern Oceans and Tasman Sea and providing an infrastructure cornerstone for this innovative but critical research program.”
CSIRO’s Dr Ann Thresher, who leads the deployment project, said the program is heavily reliant on commercial shipping and research and chartered vessels to deploy the instruments.
“This project has become a significant source of data recording change in ocean conditions relevant to climate but our biggest challenge is finding the vessels from which we can deploy the instruments in locations where we can fill gaps that open up,” Dr Thresher said.
“In this case, the Lady Amber provides us with a flexible option supplementing the support we receive in the region from commercial, naval and research vessels.”
Captain Flanagan considers the charter voyage as payback for a good life at sea.
“I’ve been on the sea for 48 years and the sea has looked after me,” Captain Flanagan said.
” This is a chance to give something back that will contribute substantially to international science and what we understand of our oceans and how they behave and respond.
“In doing so, we’ve experienced every kind of sea imaginable to fill in the gaps for the Argo program so science can continue receiving real-time ocean information.”
The charter was arranged through French scientist, Mathieu Belbeoch, based in Toulouse, France where he coordinates the global Argo program through JCOMM.
This work is part of the Australian Climate Change Science Program, funded jointly by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO.
Media Requests: Craig Macaulay. Ph: +61 3 6232 5219. Mb: 0419 966 465. E: firstname.lastname@example.org
A high-tech Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has been deployed on Cape York to help scientist get a different perspective on the world they work in.
The Scientific Predator (SP) as it is now called, is being used by CSIRO scientists based in north Queensland.
This week it is being used to take aerial snapshots and videos of native vegetation around the small community of Pormpuraaw on the west coast of Cape York.
The applications for the SP are only just being realised and every day they are thinking about new uses.
The next outing will be along the beaches to take videos of long stretches to see what marine debris is being washed up. Of particular interest and concern are “ghost nets” – fishing nets cut loose by illegal fishermen which are left to drift around the Gulf of Carpentaria capturing and killing any marine life which gets in their way.
Look out for the SP in December as it makes its way along the east coast of Australia from Brisbane to Melbourne doing aerial surveys of beaches.
Find out more about the survey HERE at their Facebook page
The pictures below were taken today at Pormpuraaw with the Wild Rivers Sea and Land Rangers and CSIRO staff doing vegetation surveys.
Hello – news@csiro is coming to you from Pormpuraaw on the western side of Cape York.
Weather Report: bloody hot and bloody humid.
We are here with a group of CSIRO ecological scientists who are running a couple of projects across the Cape.
Tropical Ecologist Dan Metcalfe and his teams are here to talk with indigenous land and sea rangers about land management issues including scrub burning regimes, invasive species (weeds, pigs and wild cattle) management and vegetation monitoring.
They will also be setting up small animal traps to see what critters are about.
Another team of scientists are going to show a new remote controlled helicopter equipped with video and infrared cameras to take aerial shots of vegetation and monitor what changes may happen over time.
They are also hoping to use it to take a look at crocodiles without getting near snapping jaws.
We have just arrived so will keep you updated during the week.
Below is Dan checking out a fire in scrub just outside Laura.