Dr Sandra Tuszynska, fungi expert, found many large specimens.
Mapping Cooloola’s Amazing Biodiversity.
A group of 17 scientists as Team Leaders and 83 volunteer citizen scientists spent the weekend of 4, 5, and 6 November exploring the Cooloola and Inskip Point Recreation areas to observe and identify every living thing and record them in efforts to accurately map the biodiversity of the region.
This is the 4th Cooloola BioBlitz put together by the partners Cooloola Coastcare and the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation (FIDO).
A record number of 2,863 observations entered so far with more to come of 795 species were recorded, including 17 threatened, vulnerable, and endangered species. These Citizen Scientists used a phone app called iNaturalist to record their observations and map them.
You can become a citizen scientist too by downloading iNaturalist for free to your phone to use to add observations of native plants and animals to our local area as well. All observations that reach research grade through identification by other iNaturalist users, get counted in Cooloola’s biodiversity data.
The 48 hour program included 2 full day field trips and options for additional excursions that begin at 7am for bird watching and extend into the night for frog and owl spotting and evening workshops and presentations.
It was a busy 48 hours of science and nature exploration, learning, and fun making new friends from near and far with the only complaint being people were so tired from trying to do everything on offer.
With expert scientists and skilled naturalists as the Team Leaders, there were plenty of learning opportunities for the participants including finding rare and beautiful plants like Cooloola’s famous, but endangered, Christmas Bells, seeing amazing fungi colonies, spotting four species of endangered frogs, and witnessing spectacular owls and tiny, cute, dancing peacock spiders.
The Rainbow Beach Community Hall made a perfect Base Camp for the scientific activities and the Nature Journaling Art Program made use of a Kropp Enterprises marquee as their canvas studio. Thanks Kroppy for supporting us with a great price and great service.
The event is an economic boost for the region and expands the scientific knowledge about this area that has such powerful environmental credentials as a National Park, Ramsar Wetland of International Significance, and listed on the World Heritage Tentative List.
Event coordinators, Lindy and Randy Orwin of Rainbow Beach, said this was the best year ever for the numbers of observations and species.
Lindy also commented that it was wonderful to see so many younger participants with a record number of university students participating as well as families. They are encouraging more Butchulla and Kabi Kabi participants to take advantage of scholarships offered in the future.
This event was made possible by a Queensland Government Citizen Grant to Cooloola Coastcare and support from Fraser Island Defenders Organisation (FIDO), the Gympie Regional STEM Hub, and donations.
iNaturalist website of observations
Photos used with permission. Credit: Zela Bissett