5 August 2022

Take a walk on the wild side during Science Week on the Sapphire Coast

| Katrina Condie
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The moray eel is just one of many creatures that have made their homes under the Tathra Wharf. Photo: Luke Hamilton.

Get up close and personal with a tawny frogmouth, test your knowledge in a pub quiz and discover the colourful creatures living under Tathra Wharf during a fun-filled week of activities on the Sapphire Coast during August.

From 13-20 August, the Sapphire Coast Science Festival includes a week of workshops, walks, talks and online forums to coincide with National Science Week, Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology.

Presented by the Sapphire Coast Science and Sustainability Hub, Bournda EEC and Atlas of Life & the Great Southern BioBlitz, the events are open to residents as well as visitors to the region.

There are in-person events which include Science in the Pub, a night tour of the mysterious world of our nocturnal marsupials, estuary rambles exploring life on our shores, as well as an online forum that explores the ways we can encourage marine life on man-made structures like jetties.

READ ALSO Yuin people’s connection to whales celebrated at new cultural event in Bermagui

On Sunday, 14 August, join Libby Hepburn and Liz Allen for a ramble along the Merimbula estuary at low tide and search for hidden treasures like moon snails, sea slugs, shrimps, hermit crabs and rose-petalled bubble snails.

Register for the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA) online symposium on Tuesday, 16 August and explore great global and local examples of powerful place-based citizen science.

The forum will showcase a number of powerful projects from Peru, USA, Flanders, and Australia, and discuss what research would be valuable in the Bega Valley. It will look at local issues like Mangroves, post-bushfire response and research, invasive weeds and ways to advance place-based science.

The symposium invites people working with local councils, Local Land Services, Landcare, NPWS, scientists, farmers, landholders and community members who are wanting to take their interest in nature and our environment to the next level.

Also on the 16th, Luke Hamilton from Tathra’s Under the Wharf project will be joined by three underwater specialists for an online forum discussing how to bring life to man-made marine structures.

Youngsters can get up close and learn all about the tawny frogmouth from Tiny Zoo experts on Thursday, 18 August. Participants will not only learn a lot about this incredible species, but will meet a tawny frogmouth during this educational talk at a location in Tathra.

BioBlitz team

Learn about the value of BioBlitzes during Science Week. Photo: Atlas of Life.

Think you’re a science expert? Well test your skill at the Tathra Hotel’s Science in the Pub event also on the 18th.

Enjoy a blend of science, music, food and pub quiz with a fascinating presentation by Australian Maritime Safety Authority lighthouse engineer Greg Hansen who will describe some of the challenges he has experienced and the modern optic technologies adopted in historical lighthouses.

On Friday, 19 August, take part in the ACSA Australian BioBlitz symposium co-hosted by the Atlas of Life with the Great Southern BioBlitz.

The online event will focus on what BioBlitzes can offer in the future – for both our communities and for science.

The Merimbula Native Wildlife Sanctuary, Potoroo Palace, presents the closing event, a night with marsupials like bettongs, potoroos, gliders and other nocturnal creatures.

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Libby Hepburn from Atlas of Life said this year’s festival offered a range of activities for all ages.

“Come and learn about the fishers of the Amazon basin or the studies of river turtles at Bellingen,” she said.

“Learn about the secrets of a tawny frogmouth’s life, and the mysterious world of sea slugs and rose-petalled bubble snails and the importance of our coastal mangroves – citizen science for everyone, where we live.”

Throughout the week, people can also sign up to the Atlas of Life local biodiversity app where budding naturalists can record their wildlife observations, including whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, sea birds and all the land creatures along the Sapphire Coast.

Atlas of Life representatives will also attend Walawaani Muriyira-Waraga, the opening of the whale season in Bermagui on 13 August.

Residents and visitors are being encouraged to become citizen scientists by taking part in the organised activities, as well as formulating their own research questions, conducting scientific experiments, collecting and analysing data, interpreting results, and even making new discoveries.

Check out the Sapphire Coast Science Festival 2022 program for a full list of events and link to online forums.

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