Connecting with nature is good for us – we can even do it in our own backyards!

Connecting with nature is good for us.

Connecting with nature is good for us.

Connecting with nature on a regular basis makes us healthier, happier and smarter but finding the time to connect with nature each day can be a challenge. One way of making it easier for ourselves is by encouraging nature into our gardens. With a little creativity and a few native plants even the tiniest of courtyards can be transformed into an oasis of biodiversity. Continue reading

Where’s the party? – Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama)

Something strange is happening in the South Australian seas. Someone’s not turned up for their party.

Australia Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama)

The giant Australian cuttlefish can grow to one metre but lives for only two years.

Around this time of year the Australian giant cuttlefish (Sepia apama) gather along the South Australian coastline between False Bay and Whyalla to mate and spawn. These cuttlefish are cephelapods, an animal without a backbone. They are giants of their genus, they can grow to about a metre long from tentacle to tail and weigh over 5kg but they only live for 2 years! Continue reading

Ecological islands on land: a first for New Zealand?

The Kaka (Nestor meridionalis)

The Kaka (Nestor meridionalis) is a NZ parrot benefiting from the Maungatautari ecological island (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gilesbreton/ / CC BY 2.0)

New Zealanders have been first at many things. First to climb Mt Everest, first to give women the right to vote, and first to invent the pavlova (this may be argued by an Australian or two). They may also be the first to create ‘islands on land’.

That is, ‘ecological islands’ on land, anyway. Continue reading

Why frogs love puddles! The ephemeral breeders.

Litoria gracilenta - Graceful Tree Frog

Litoria gracilenta - The Graceful Tree Frog is an ephemeral breeder. They emerge to breed in temporary streams and ponds that form after summer storms.(Image: K. Kriger, Save The Frogs!)

The summer afternoon storms of subtropical Queensland are an awe inspiring sight and sound of nature. If you’re lucky enough to have some trees and ponds around your house, the wet balmy night will be filled with the crawk – crawk – crawk of male Green Tree Frogs (Litoria caerulea) seducing prospective partners. Continue reading

Biodiversity: what it is and why it’s important

The diversity of life - biodiversity

The diversity of life - biodiversity (image: R Young)

The United Nations declared 2010 to be the International year of biodiversity. This year we will celebrate life on earth and the importance of biodiversity. It also presents an occasion for us to think more about biodiversity. What exactly is meant by biodiversity? Why it is so important? Continue reading

Glaucus atlanticus a beauty at eating those marine stingers

Glaucus atlanticus as you might find them washed up on the beach

Glaucus atlanticus as you might find them washed up on the beach

Along the Australian beaches of Queensland and Northern New South Wales, northerly winds often bring with them blue bottles or Portugese man o’ war jelly fish. The blue bottle (Physalia physalis) is one of nature’s small jellyfish (Siphonophora) with a powerful sting. Sometimes known as a marine stinger it can inflict a nasty sting when its tentacles wrap around the tender skin of your torso or thigh. But the blue bottles have other things on their cnardarian minds…there is a predator out there and a beautiful one at that. Continue reading

The Forest Dragons (Hypsilurus spinipes) of the Border Ranges National Park

Looking into the eye of the southern forest dragon

Looking into the eye of the southern forest dragon

Have you ever walked through the forest and felt like you were being watched. Well if you were walking in the Border Ranges national park of New South Wales, you probably were being watched by forest dragons!

The forest dragons I’m talking about are not the kind you’ll see in the movies. They’re a native Australian lizard called Hypsilurus spinipes or, the Southern Forest Dragon. They’re grey to brown in colour with spiny necks and about 30 cm long with half of that being their tail.

Funny thing is though, these guys are not that uncommon, but they are rarely seen. Continue reading

Bees, pollinating a third of everything you eat!

Bees busily pollinating. (Credit to fishermansdaughter on Flickr)

Bees busily pollinating. (Credit to fishermansdaughter on Flickr)

In these days of mass extinctions it seems that all of the animals and plants around us are dropping dead. Many of the species disappearing have been plagued by new diseases or in some cases, diseases they were previously resilient to have become deadly. Continue reading