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Celebrating ‘International Observe The Moon Night’ Fraser-style

Noeleen Lowndes is a Gold Coast-based astronomer and Campaign Member for NASA’s Saturn Observation Campaign in Australia. This is her fifth year as a special guest presenter at Kingfisher Bay Resort – where she introduces recreational astronomers to the clear night skies above Fraser Island.  

This year we talked all things LUNAR in celebration of International Observe The Moon Night (InOTMN) – it was great to see you back Noeleen – we’re loving your pics!  September 2012.

My visit to beautiful Kingfisher Bay Resort and Fraser Island this year was in celebration of ‘International Observe the Moon Night’ with the theme ‘Under the Same Moon’. This meant that for 24 hours on Saturday, September 22, people from all over the world including us here on Fraser Island went outside to look at our Moon in the night sky…how exciting is that!!!

On the first evening, when I was setting up my telescope just a short stone’s throw from the resort, I could hear lots of laughter and chit chat coming from children walking down the boardwalk, when all of a sudden I heard… “Wow’…look at that, it’s a telescope!”

Our tribute to astronaut Neil Armstrong

Our tribute to astronaut Neil Armstrong

Ranger Amelia was taking the Junior Eco Rangers on an adventure tour around the Wallum area (in front of the Resort’s Centre Complex) and I could not let the chance go by without offering them all a look at the Moon through my telescope.

It was brilliant to see how excited they all were to see the Moon for the very first time!

You can check out the full album on our Facebook page.

At my presentation to resort guests, a little later that evening, I gave a talk on how everybody can easily learn about the night sky using starcharts, binoculars and telescopes.  I also explained all about the workings of the Solar System to better understand the phases of our Moon and movements of the planets and constellations in the night sky.

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN more about our amazing Moon? Visit the InOMN web site and check out the movie ‘From the Earth to the Moon’ – it is just stunning!

Then it was off to look at the real Moon in the telescope and to point out some of the constellations in the night sky.

Kingfisher Bay’s Ranger Nick joined us after doing a bush walk with his guests and everyone enjoyed viewing all the magnificent craters, lunar seas and mountains through the telescope. My husband Graham took a group photo of us all pointing at the Moon in celebration of the lunar event.

The Moon is simply fascinating!

Noeleen – that pic is out of this world!

On Sunday evening, I gave another presentation on the many beautiful stellar objects that you can view in the night sky and showed many of my deep sky images taken from my ‘Stardust Observatory’ at Leyburn. I also gave an update on the many NASA space missions that are currently exploring the planets in our Solar System, especially the new Curiosity Rover mission to Mars and the Cassini mission to Saturn.
You can find out all about these incredible missions at: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov

After the talk we all went outside and had a wonderful time looking at the Moon through the telescope, where we saw some incredible features all along the terminator line of the eight-day-old Moon.

The sky was just perfect (as Fraser Island’s sky often is) and the Moon’s surface was so clear it was like we were in our own spacecraft looking down upon the surface. In fact, that is the beauty of using a telescope – you can change the eyepieces and use higher magnification to view all the features on the lunar surface.

Ranger Jermaine is a keen astronomer

Ranger Jermaine is a keen astronomer

Kingfisher’s Ranger Jermaine showed us his excellent astronomy app of the night sky and I also held up my Apple iPad to show the beautiful constellations in the night sky. These applications are another fun way for armchair astronomers to learn the night sky and many of them are free to download from iTunes.

For everybody that participated in the weekend for InOMN click here to download and print your certificate at:
and don’t forget to check out my album on Kingfisher Bay Resort’s Facebook page.

Thank you to all the guests and Rangers for making ‘International Observe the Moon Night’ 2012 such a wonderful event and I wish everybody happy Moon and Stargazing until I see you all again.

Noeleen Lowndes
NASA’s Saturn Observation Campaign Member – Australia

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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Sunlover Holidays: The Flavours Of Fraser

GUEST BLOG: Sunlover Holiday’s resident blogger and PR Lady extraordinaire, Donna Kramer, recently visited Fraser Island with her fabulous family and discovered it’s not just a destination for blokes on mancations.  She spills all in her Sunlover Holidays blog, which we’re sharing with you in this forum… (May 2012)

75 Mile Beach Fraser Island

75 Mile Beach Fraser Island

We’d spent the day in the car exploring every inch of the natural island paradise that they call Fraser Island.

For my husband, Fraser Island is the definition of paradise, the beach, natural landscapes, the wildlife oh and the fishing so much so that this question was asked about 501 times as we explored the island

“Are you seeing that gutter DK? It’s beautiful!”

So after seven years of mancations to Fraser Island I decided to finally join him on a trip, I jumped in our 4WD (along with our 15 month-old) and really experienced Fraser Island. The four wheel driving was an adventure within itself the tracks were well maintained and signposted, it was an adrenaline rush within the confines of safety.

Once on the road, well sand, we swam in Lake McKenzie for hours, floated out to the beach in the crystal clear waters of Eli Creek, walked through the stunning rainforest at Central Station and picnicked beside the Champagne Pools at Indian Head.

I was impressed ten times over, and I now wished I’d done it years earlier. Fraser Island is a beautiful place on all levels and trust me when I say that it is a destination that you have to experience and if you have overseas friends visiting get out their to-do list and put Fraser Island at the top.

It will be the highlight of their trip, I promise.

A room with a view

A room with a view

We stayed at Kingfisher Bay Resort and I instantly felt at home.  Our spacious room looked straight out to the ocean and with ramps everywhere it made getting around with a pram super easy.

While I loved the room and its view, the heated pool and stunning common areas at Kingfisher Bay Resort I’m not deep when it comes to accommodation, if it’s clean and the staff are friendly then I’m happy (I do love camping you see) so I tend to measure a resort by its food and Kingfisher Bay Resort received a shiny big gold star in my books.

We ate like KINGS at the buffet breakfast both mornings and the overflowing fresh seafood buffet dinner was so good I literally could not move for 15 minutes afterwards, I’m having flash backs to the Moreton Bay Bug induced food coma writing this!

On our final night we had wines and a cheese platter on the jetty followed by wood-fire pizza.  And they say that the secret to a man s happiness is through his stomach?  I was in love.

But a firm highlight of our trip for me aside from the amazing fishing gutters (between you and I, I have no idea what I was looking at other than the ocean) was the Kingfisher Bay Resort Bush Tucker experience.

Hosted by Kingfisher Bay’s chefs from their signature restaurant Seabelle (which sadly was undergoing renovations when we were there) and a ranger Jermaine who’s indigenous ancestors used to call Fraser Island home, the bush tucker experience is intimate, we were one of five couples. Not only did we taste an array of native seeds, herbs and plants but we left full of knowledge about what native plants the indigenous Australians used each day in their cooking.

It was fascinating.

Seabelle Chefs blend bush tucker with modern Australia cuisine

Seabelle Chefs blend bush tucker with modern Australia cuisine

Kingfisher’s Seabelle restaurant incorporates many local native ingredients into each of their dishes; the thought process behind producing basic foods with a native food twist was impressive. Clear highlights were – jam infused with quandong or ‘desert peach’, panna cotta with lemon myrtle picked straight from a small native garden and herb farm on the Island, relish with bush tomatoes and lillypilly and my all time favorite pesto with bunya nuts was divine.

Now as a vegetarian (pescitarian to be precise) the low-fat meats such as kangaroo, emu and crocodile steaks that were offered were wasted on me, not so my husband who happily snapped up my share with rave reviews, but the fresh prawns covered in aniseed myrtle and the barramundi baked in paperbark was swoon-worthy.

Aside from being a tutorial into native deliciousness the hour-long Bush Tucker class is fun and entertaining with the banter between the ranger and chefs keeping us in constant hysterics. I left feeling full of good food and interesting facts.

Next trip I’m adding the Seabelle’s bush tucker-inspired degustation menu, which I’m told contains countless delights including the freshest of Queensland’s famous seafood and Australian wines, to the top of my to-do list… oh along with finding amazing fishing gutters.

You can see Donna’s pics and read about her other adventures on the Sunlover Holidays’ official blog site… http://sunloverhols.blogspot.com.au/

“FOODIE FACT: Seabelle has taken out the top gong of ‘Best Restaurant’ at the Fraser Coast Tourism Awards for the past two years”

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Fraser Island – Paradise For Nature Lovers

Dr Errol Stock conducted his first talk at Kingfisher in 1998 and returns regularly to enjoy Fraser Island and to share his knowledge with staff and guests alike (April 2012).  Here Dr Errol shares his most recent experience on the world’s largest sand island.

I’ve been coming to Fraser Island for over 30 years and I still look forward to each visit. Over the last few years I’ve enjoy coming back about every six months to give talks to Kingfisher Resort Bay guests and assist in updating geo-science materials for Resort rangers and guides.

Image

Last month I was with a Japanese film crew filming on the island for a documentary to be shown in Japan in June. We shot footage along the east coast from Indian Head, at sites in the coloured sand cliffs and on to Lake Wabby. I provided some of the geological commentary for those places and other experts at different locations, including Peter Meyer known to all who visit Kingfisher Bay Resort (he is a Ranger Guide and takes the beautiful pictures displayed in and around the hotel). I was also on board the helicopter to provide commentary as the crew collected some special aerial footage at the northern end of Fraser Island. Although constrained a little by showers they got some great shots and I saw locations I’d never seen on previous flights. I look forward to seeing the completed documentary.

In June I’ll be making another visit for talks at the resort. Reflecting on the experience of making the documentary reminded me of what a great range of things guests can see when they holiday on Fraser Island – even if they only make short trips near the resort.

  • A walk to and along Dundonga Creek gives access to one of the water courses developed in the old terrain on the west side of Fraser Island.
  • Mangroves are developed at the mouth of the creek where the dark coloured waters mix with the sea.
  • The beach area north from the jetty has an abundance of beach structures and animals, typical of the low-energy west coast environments.
  • In the cliffs above this beach guests can catch views of a mature profile of one of the siliceous podzol soils that geoscientists use to make estimates of relative ages of the vegetated dunes.
  • South of the jetty, depending on the amount of beach sand at the time, guests can see good outcrops of so-called ‘coffee rock’ or black/brown beachrock. These exposures, on the beach and in the lower parts of the cliffs to McKenzies Jetty, indicate where brown tannin-stained groundwater waters in the past have cemented the loose sands that can be crushed with finger pressure.

Of course, all around the resort guests can explore tracks though the vegetated dune. Those who have the time and want to venture further afield to see what the more active environments of the east coast will have to find some transport, preferably with a guide (and Kingfisher Bay Resort can help with that) to help provide essential background about this fascinating environment.

Until next time.

Errol Stock
Geoscientist Presenter

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Laid Back Luxury On Fraser Island

Self-confessed greenie Samantha Solomon travels on her first ecotourism adventure to the beautiful Kingfisher Bay Resort on precious Fraser Island to see how eco-friendly, while essential, can also be laid-back. Samantha’s story was published in Profile Magazine (13 Feb 2012)

Laid Back Luxury

Laid Back Luxury

It is said that people will only protect what they understand and understand what they take the time to experience. With the boom of the environmentally-friendly trend, the ecotourism bandwagon has taken off and everyone is scrambling to get on. But this isn’t simply a hot-this-minute trend, gone-tomorrow along with acid wash jeans and roller blades. Ecotourism has been around for decades, which is exactly the way it is supposed to be.

Our lovely state offers any number of destinations to the eco traveller, but none is more alluring than the iconic K’gari (meaning paradise), better known as Fraser Island.

Kingfisher Bay Resort, on the western side of Fraser, is a beautiful merging of comfortable elegance and sustainability. As my [then] partner Will and I would discover on our first trip to Fraser, the combination of education, adventure and tropical paradise makes it impossible for anyone who visits not to instantly want to protect this truly unique island.

As we drove the three hours up the coastline, I wondered what was in store for us. Having never been on an eco holiday, my mind conjured up images of a non-air-conditioned hotel room, a muddy, chemical-free pool, and rough recycled toilet paper … ah! However, as we walked up to the check-in desk for the ferry at River Heads, my fears were quelled slightly. Check-in was a cinch as the resort conveniently has its own desk at the boat harbour for its own ferry. Our bags were whisked away with the promise that they would be delivered directly to our room, and we grabbed a cup of coffee and looked out over the Mary River as we waited to board the ferry.

The 50-minute ride over the azure Great Sandy Straits gave us spectacular views of the western coast of Fraser, with sights of sparkling white beaches, dense jungle and freshwater creeks flowing into the ocean. Docking at the jetty, we were greeted by a little train to take us up to the main resort. Travelling through paved streets, we caught glimpses of saltwater pools and private villas through the thick bush of eucalyptus trees and bushland. As we stopped at an elegant archway of dark wood that was the main entrance to the resort, We jumped out using our speed walking skills, determined not to be last in a long line of guests waiting to check in

Sidling up to the desk, smugly first, we were directed down the stairs to a group of comfortable leather seats where trays of cold tangerine and pink fruit juices were waiting. The resort had planned for people like us. As we sat enjoying our cold drinks, we were greeted by Ranger Kat who had our keys ready and waiting, avoiding any sort of line … genius.

It was here we experienced the full impact of the resort. Dark woods, blue metals and glass were intricately worked together forming the walls and ceiling that gave the illusion we were neither inside nor out. Lush creepers climbed their way along beams, leading the eye to the outside where expansive decks were greeted by beautiful flora and a turquoise pool beyond.

Indoors flows outdoors and vice versa

Indoors flows outdoors and vice versa

I learned from my trip that good sustainability is all in the subtleties, and Kingfisher Bay Resort is a beautiful example of this. As we walked to our room in the Boomanjin Wing, named after the island’s largest perched lake, I was again amazed at how seamlessly the outdoors flowed indoors. Our hallway was completely open, with birds swooping in and out and leafy palms growing up beside hotel room doors. The rooms are stacked in little clusters among the vegetation in a way that made me think of tree houses. A theme of green, burgundy and gold reflected the flora and fauna around the resort, and the curved tin roof over our veranda mirrored the rolling sand dunes of the island.

Our room looked out over a black tea tree lake  with the sparkling straight beyond. With air-conditioner, a collection of ‘green’ products in the bathroom and our luggage arriving just a few minutes later, I had completely lost any prejudices I had about holidaying eco-style.
The resort is built to strict environmental guidelines, but you would never know this as it offers all the amenities of a modern resort, boasting four pools, three restaurants, two cafes, two bars, private villas and a natural therapies salon. Most of the materials used to build the resort were harvested from the island itself, utilising wood left over from the island’s logging days (it is now completely illegal to cut down any sort of vegetation, or take anything off the island, for that matter).

Vegetation used for landscaping was removed from the resort’s location during construction and then replaced, and even the jetty we arrived at was built from mixed eucalypt piles with satinay tree planks and beams. The resort recycles everything and an onsite worm farm turns sewage sludge, waste paper and kitchen preparation scraps into compost for a herb garden, which supplies the resort’s kitchens.

Now that the guilty greenie inside of me was satisfied, it was on to the good stuff. A quick lunch at Maheno, one of the two restaurants in the Centre Complex, renowned for its all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, and a dip in the calm Great Sandy Strait waters of the resort beach and we were ready for dinner.

The Seabelle Restaurant is home to the resort’s finest dining and offers a beautiful array of local fare, artfully combined with bush foods found on the island. The restaurant offers a fabulous bush tucker tasting as an introduction to some of the treats on the island. We were wary at first, but should have known this would be bush tucker with elegance. A knowledgeable guide took us through a delightful tasting of fruits, leaves, nuts and flowers while one of Seabelle’s chefs prepared combinations used on the restaurant menu. It was all delectable and thoroughly whet our appetites for dinner.

Naturally, dinner was exceptional – we were certainly overwhelmed by the innovative and somewhat ‘green’ options available. Yum! We ended the day as everyone should, with a sweet treat of bush tucker!

Dessert was another adventure into sophisticated bush tucker, with a macadamia nut and chocolate tart with mascarpone and a raspberry reduction, and a wattle seed and chocolate parfait – both the perfect cap to our meal.

Lake McKenzie is the jewel in Fraser's crown

Lake McKenzie is the jewel in Fraser's crown

The next morning we had an early start for the resort’s most popular activity, the all-day beauty spots tour. It is truly the best and easiest way to see the highlights of Fraser. The fully-equipped 4WD buses come with experienced drivers who double as knowledgeable tour guides able to answer any question you may have – from flora to fauna to the history of the island.

The morning included a trip to the Stonetool Sandblow, a dip in the crystal clear Eli Creek with an option to take a short flight to see some of the island’s more secluded sights, a stop at the famous Maheno shipwreck and a view of the mystical painted sands. Lunch was a fresh buffet at Kingfisher’s sister accommodation, Eurong Beach Resort.

Onto the second part of the trip and we headed out to Central Station. Once the base for the booming logging industry on the island, it is now a beautiful rainforest walk through a thick palm forest overlooking one of the many freshwater creeks, which is fed from the island’s massive freshwater store deep in the sand.

Now for the highlight of the trip, the beautiful Lake McKenzie with its deep sapphire waters fading to cerulean, lapping gently against a beach of soft white sand so fine it feels like liquid running through your fingers. The lake is a beautiful retreat in itself and was a prized resource to the Aboriginal people who once lived on the island. Being a perched lake, rainwater has filled it over thousands of years. Swimming in the lake gives you the softest skin and hair, and on top of that, the super fine sand works as the perfect exfoliant for your skin and cleans your teeth and jewellery. What could be greener? I am thoroughly convinced that I came back from that tour looking better than when I left.

With so many more things to do at the resort, like ranger-guided walks, canoe paddless, fishing clinics and guided trips, private 4WD tours, and whale watching in the winter months, it definitely begs for more than a weekend away. A weekend was all I needed though, to fall in love with this precious slice of paradise … and now I too desperately want to protect it.

Profile Magazine – http://www.profilemag.com.au/cms/news/news.aspx?id=807&fid=136

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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A Stay On Memory Lane At Kingfisher Bay

One of Kingfisher Bay Resort’s pioneering architects, Ralph Bailey, returns to the resort and to Fraser Island as a special guest presenter and for a little R&R – January 2012.

Kingfisher Bay Resort's foyer

As Jenny (my wife) and I sat on our hotel balcony (the afternoon we arrived at Kingfisher Bay Resort) enjoying a cold drink, a Lewin’s Honeyeater flew down and perched on the railing in front of us. These bids love sugar and given half the chance will steal a sip of your beverage!

Over the years we’ve visited, we’ve chatted to the resort rangers, who lead the bird watching tours, believe there are actually more birds around the resort than elsewhere on the entire island – “so the birds must love the resort as much as we do!” we exclaimed.

That night we indulged in bush tucker-infused cuisine at Kingfisher’s Seabelle restaurant. We had the lamb with a wattleseed jus (for those that don’t know, wattleseed is actually the crushed seed of an Acacia plant which has a mild coffee- like flavour) and the stuffed chicken breast with a lemon myrtle dressing. I have written various articles on Australian Bush Tucker, so to see restaurants utilising local native produce in such creative and delicious ways is a real treat for us.

The next morning I enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the Wallum and up around and through the villa areas and even around the hotel itself.  There is always a different plant in flower and this visit I found two  special plants in full flower including Meliocope elleryana ( Pink Euodia) – all the branches covered in large clusters of pink flowers are which are highly attractive to honeyeaters and a wide range of spectacular butterflies.

Later with Peter, the Landscape Manager, and Ivor Davies (the resort’s General Manager) we took a tour together to look at landscape maintenance with the idea of maintaining our vigilance against any weeds taking hold on the site. Weeds can be brought in by birds or under mudguards or on tyres of vehicles visiting the island. If weeds are not kept in check they form seeds and spread and could change the ecology of the site and increase the cost of landscape maintenance. – so our stroll was actually vitally important to the eco-system.

That afternoon, Tim Guymer, the principal architect of the Resort (and partner at Guymer Bailey) announced to us his plans to visit the resort during our stay and assist me with Saturday night’s presentation to guests. The presentation went well with a few guests and plenty of staff showing up, eager to learn more about the sustainable design of Kingfisher Bay Resort.

We spoke together on our architectural design inspiration for the Resort and our desire to design buildings that reflect Australian lifestyle and culture.

Villas are set in natural bushland

Villas are set in natural bushland

“Queenslanders love their verandas and outdoor living areas” proclaimed Tim as we reminisced about the design process. Tim who has been travelling around the world in his yacht with his partner Karen, also gave a powerpoint presentation on his “Reflections on Architecture” showing examples of architecture he has seen on his travels through the Pacific over the last three years.

On Sunday, I took three of the Resort Rangers on a walk around the resort grounds to discuss landscaping and why particular species of plants were used in certain areas. Ferns and palms are more suited to low lying areas around the main complex that are moist and well shaded, while Eucalypt species are suited to more exposed areas. I hope I have added a few more botanical plant names to their every expanding repertoire!

That evening myself, Ranger Jermaine and Chef Toby held a Bush Tucker Talk and Taste session which allows guests to learn about and taste some of Australia’s amazing native food plants. Ranger Jermaine, a Butchalla descendent explained to guests about his ancestors usage of bush foods, while I talked a bit about where they grow and the best way to grow them at home. Chef Toby then made our mouths water with explanations of how they use bush tucker in Seabelle restaurant.

On Sunday night I delivered a presentation on the topic of “Native Flora and Landscape Design” to staff and guests. This presentation is based on my book “Gardening with Australian Rainforest Plants”. I am passionate about using Australian plants in Australian gardens. This was also my aim at Kingfisher, to keep it “pure”, as in eradicating exotics and only planting native plants from the island, so as to keep it a true eco experience unlike other resorts.

We look forward to returning again in the not-too-distant future.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Ocean Life Education At Fraser Island

Marine Expert Richard Coward is a regular visitor to Queensland’s Fraser Island and loves sharing his knowledge about the marine eco systems with staff and guests alike.  September 2011.

Richard Coward is a 'star' presenter

Richard Coward is a 'star' presenter

The team at Ocean Life Education love to visit Fraser Island every year.  It’s one of the last yet most accessible natural paradises in the world and we talk to guests at Kingfisher Bay Resort about the many varied and wonderful marine creatures living in the waters surrounding Fraser Island.

Some of these animals are easily visible such as Whales, pelagic fish (often caught off Kingfisher’s jetty), sharks, turtles and I was even privileged to be greeted one afternoon on the jetty by a Dugong! While others are not as easily seen – by this I mean sand worms, ghost crabs, moon snails and other weird and wonderful creatures which live in the sand.

We conduct organised walks along the beach and dazzle guests with how many microscopic animals live in the sand and the roles these animals play in the marine ecosystem.

The team are happy to share knowledge with all visitors, young and not so young – and get a thrill when we delight them with valuable information about Fraser Island’s marine creatures, why they look the way they do, what their eating habits are, what their role is in their environment and thus why they are so important.

Creatures of the sea on display

Creatures of the sea on display

On my last visit I explained why some marine animals are dangerous such as Stone Fish and Stingrays; they have defence mechanisms against larger predators that may affect humans should they come into contact with them.

Others like Jellyfish, Cone Shell and Blue Ringed octopus are dangerous because of the size and strength of the food they like to eat, thus they are equipped with potent fast acting venom, so potent they will affect our nervous system and could cause death! I take great pains to explain that these animals do not mean to harm us, but if we enter their environment we need to be aware and know how to avoid making contact with them!

Always of major interest to guests at our talks is the comprehensive information and anecdote we provide about sharks. We show shark jaws from different species and each species eating habits are explained according to teeth and jaw structure.

Similar to the message on the big painting hanging in the main foyer at Kingfisher Bay Resort, Ocean Life Educations motto is; if they learn about it they’ll understand it, if they understand it they’ll love it, if they love it they’ll care for it!

Ocean Life are committed in reaching as many people to share just how wonderful the marine environment is, why it is important and why we need to protect it.  We look forward to seeing you next visit.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Guest Bloggers

 

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Frogs, Missing Frogs, Declining Frogs, Acid Frogs and more frogs…

Recently Associate Professor Jean-Marc Hero from the Environmental Futures Centre, (Gold Coast campus of Griffith University) came to Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island recently to share his experiences with frogs of eastern Australia, and his intimate knowledge on global amphibian declines. September 2011… Read all about it…

Frogs, Missing Frogs, Declining Frogs, Acid Frogs and more Frog....

Fraser Island's amazing amphibians on show!

Activities began with a seminar on Friday, September 16 discussing the global amphibian declines that have been reported over the past 30 years.

Over 200 species have been reported extinct (6 species in Australia) since 1979, and over 2,000 species have been reported as in decline. Frogs have been identified as the vertebrate group that is at the highest risk (have proportionally more threatened species than birds, mammals or reptiles).

The special presentation  I held at the resort focused on known causes of decline (habitat loss, harvesting, introduced species etc.) and explanations for the enigmatic declines of stream-dwelling frogs in relatively undisturbed habitats (disease and climate change) that have been observed around the world.

Recent research has focused on the emerging pathogenic fungus which causes the disease chytridiomycosis and how this may work synergistically with climate change.

The next night began with a seminar focusing on the amazing biology of amphibians and how so many species co-exist on Fraser Island.  Using sound recordings, he discussed ways of sharing acoustic space (only male frogs call to attract female) by using different frequencies.

Female frogs have hearing that is finely tuned into the specific frequency of male for the same species. Frogs also share ecosystems by utilising a range of breeding sites ranging from stream to ponds, with some species avoiding water entirely by laying their eggs in totally terrestrial environments.

In the coastal wallum habitats of mid-eastern Australia (and on large sandy islands including Fraser Island) there are a unique group of “acid frogs” which only breed in the highly acidic waters of these habitats.

Following the seminar participants went for a stroll around the ponds surrounding Kingfisher Bay Resort and practised their skills at identifying frogs by their calls. Despite the cool spring weather, we were lucky enough to see or hear the endemic Cooloola Sedge Frog (Litoria cooloolensis) and the Wallum Sedge Frog  (Litoria olongburensis), two of the four Acid frog species found on the island.  Visitors were amazed at how such tiny creatures could make such a loud call.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2011 in Resort Guests

 

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