All had a fantastic day being educated about penguins and other seabirds by senior citizen scientist Dr Nick Dunlop. We got to watch penguin feedings and get up close and personal to the local ecology on the island.
Saturday 12th November 2011
Everyone was super keen for the trip to Penguin Island, with most people never having travelled to the island before.
Dr Nick Dunlop was incredible - such a fantastic wealth of knowledge and expertise on the island and its inhabitants. He explained the entire lifecycle of certain bird species on the island and how climate change is affecting their unique and structured breeding patterns.
Extremes are very apparent in 2011. Normally, there are hundreds of breeding pairs of penguins each year, but this year numbers have dropped to as few as six breeding pairs. He is still yet to see a Bridle Tern in the area this year - normally the island would be overrun with them.
It is such a shame most people in the world don’t get a chance to hear and see what we saw today, witnessing firsthand how everything in our world is connected to nature. The tiniest change, like a 1 degree rise in global temperature, can have irreparable effects on species and their habitat.
Certain species adapt and change through their new environment by migrating further north or south for new food sources, while others are unable to cope with such a rapid change. The biggest challenge we face as conservationists is knowing how ecosystems will adapt to our future environment.
Nick has been a citizen scientist for 30 years, indulging amongst other things a private passion for the ecology of tropical seabirds off the Western Australian coast. His current day job is Citizen Science Program Coordinator with the Conservation Council of WA. Nick works closely with TWS WA on marine conservation and landmark mapping of our recent nationwide campaign for marine parks.
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