Keep on top of everything that's happening right across the Nature Parks
Sandstorm Events is proud to present the WILD Sand Sculpting event in conjunction with the Nature Parks, opening on 26 December. We've brought 17 of the world's top sand sculptors to the island to create 37 intricate larger-than-life sand sculptures, featuring over 60 animals. This incredible event will be located in the old Penguin Parade Car Park 4, adjacent to the new Penguin Parade Visitor Centre.
A small number of sculptures is also going to be created inside the Antarctic Journey attraction, and combo tickets are available for WILD and Antarctic Journey, and these combo tickets include free return shuttle between the Parade and the Nobbies.
Click on the pic below for more info.
There are a few changes in store at Churchill Island, with revised opening hours, and extra activities during the summer season
26 Dec 2019 – 27 Jan 2020
Open 10am - 6pm, Last admission 5.45pm
Café closes: 6pm
28 Jan 2020 – 30 April 2020 & 1 Aug 2020 - 24 Dec 2020
Open 10am - 5pm, Last admission 4.45pm
Café closes: 5pm
1 May 2020 – 31 July 2020
Open 10am - 4.30pm, Last admission 4.15pm
Café closes: 4.30pm
Additional Summer Activities (21 December to 26 January)
11am - Cow milking
11.30am - Animal Nursery Tour - includes a walk and talk about each animal, feeding, petting and photo opportunity. Please note children will only be able to hold animals if they are in a basket or box, for animal welfare reasons
WILD ISLAND HOLIDAY PROGRAM - Summer is the perfect time to explore the Nature Park and all that our wonderful island offers. Make the most of a visit by joining our Education Rangers for our Wild Island Summer Holiday Program. Our activities are aimed for the whole family to explore nature, so children must always be accompanied by an adult. Activities run from 2 Jan to 24 Jan and include Nature Scavenger Hunts, Koala Prowls, Arts & Crafts and plenty more
Updated 7 Jan
In the housing estate last check, we had 74% of burrows breeding - 23% with eggs and 51% with chicks. Today's fact share is about penguin parenting equality - did you know that not all penguin parents put in the same amount of effort into chick rearing? In fact, 72% of little penguin pairs exhibited unforced (i.e., that did not result from desertion of 1 parent) unequal partnership through the postguard stage. And FYI, the sex of the bird doesn't play a part in it, so either male or female parent may put in less effort.
There's always plenty going on in the world of Conservation. Here are just a few highlights, but if you'd like a bit more detail, click here for our quarterly Conservation News Update.
Feral Cats - continue to be a focus of our activities. We are conducting several tracking studies across the island, along with our usual trapping activities and have so far removed 30 feral cats from the island this financial year.
Fire Preparations - Currently the environment rangers are preparing for the fire season by clearing fire breaks, task based assessments and fire breaks slashing program.
Coastal/Wetland Management - Monitoring cameras have been set up on Crimson Berry plants on the South coast of Phillip Island between Gap Road and YCW beach aiming to determine the level of predation pressure experienced by the plants. Upon discovering many instances of wallaby browsing, the plants have been fenced to protect this threatened species.
Seals - During two trips out to Seal Rocks in September and October, seven Australian fur seals were counted entangled in marine debris and five were rescued and the entanglement removed. • Five were trawl net (green) and two were plastic rings
Shearwaters - This year the shearwaters arrived on Phillip Island about ten days later than usual, and in lower numbers than we have previously experienced. Those birds that have returned have been in good body condition. Good size flocks of shearwaters have been observed offshore, and there has been no evidence of local mortality events.
Koalas - The new joey is 10 months old and is sexed as a male. He is now being seen to move away from his mother and feeding independently. A naming competition for this new male family member has concluded and we are waiting on the final result.
Eastern Barred Bandicoots - The recovery team returned to the Summerland Peninsula, almost 2 years since bandicoots were first released at this site. Over 3 nights we captured 48 different individuals, 13 of which were caught for the first time and saw 14 pouch young with the females. This shows the population is continuing to breed and persists in the presence of feral cats.
Penguin spatial distribution - This PhD project was concluded by Monash University's Sonia Sanchez on “Fine-scale foraging behaviour of little penguins: implications for marine management”. Knowing where penguins forage, why they select specific foraging grounds and how they exploit them has important implications for conservation.
This project developed a novel approach combining GPS, diving and acceleration tracking data to reconstruct the fine-scale three-dimensional behaviour of breeding penguins. Surprisingly, the study found strong spatial foraging segregation between two sub-colonies. That is, two sites, only two kilometres apart, had quite different foraging and breeding success.
Using this information, the project could build a predictive model of the spatial distribution of penguin prey to inform marine spatial planning. Incubating adults used areas nearer the coastline, making them more exposed to pressures from human coastal activities.
It provides crucial data on the fine-scale foraging behaviour of penguin to assist us in the management of the coastal environment of Phillip Island to penguins in the future.
Penguins and their food - This PhD project was concluded by Monash University's Catherine Cavallo on how foraging flexibility in little penguins has implications for the monitoring and management of penguins’ food web around Phillip Island.
The study was part of the ARC grant aiming to have a strong understanding of how little penguins fit together in food webs and respond to environmental variation. It used high precision tools such as DNA-metabarcoding and automated monitoring systems to examine relationships between foraging and environmental variation.
DNA sequences revealed the presence of gelatinous (“jellyfish”) and crustaceous plankton groups that have not previously been detected in the little penguin diet. The study provided an estimate of how much food penguins consume per year, crucial information to manage the food supply of penguins at Phillip Island in the future.
Artificial intelligence to identify Australian fur seals - Phillip Island Nature Parks has established a multidisciplinary collaboration with Monash University to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automate detection of fur seals in photographs captured by drones. Citizen Scientists have counted thousands of fur seals using our online portal SealSpotter, and these labelled images are being used to train computers to count seals.
Research has shown that drone images and Citizen Scientists provide more precise counts than traditional methods. An essential benefit of using drones to monitor wildlife is reduced cost and disturbance, which allows for increased frequency of surveys and improved trends. Artificial intelligence will further improve the application of the method.