I have never before done any traveling down to the Southern Hemisphere, but the weather here has definitely made a positive impact on me compared to the snow that is to found back in good ole' Idaho. Our first day here, we got off the train from the Brisbane Airport and walked the four blocks to a hostel that we will be staying in until the Monday morning of January 7th. Known as the Explorer's Club, I found it an appropriate name for the overall purpose of our trip. After having a bit of time to walk around and find some lunch, we headed across the Brisbane river to explore the museum located on the other side of the bridge. The Queensland Museum and Sciencentre is a conglomeration of various sorts of exhibits, including a section on local natural history that included a variety of stuffed animals from the Tasmanian Devil to the Sulfur Crested Cockatoo. Many of the birds that were on display were ones that we had studied in our Australian prep class, and I found it very fun and exciting to finally be able to see an exhibit of the actual birds scattered throughout the display cases, rather than simply just a picture in my bird book.
There were several other intriguing exhibitions that I spent various time wandering through. These included an exhibit about the history of the Eastern Australian coast, a sea turtle and coastal marine tour and a walk through on Aboriginal history. While my main purpose during my time here in Australia is to study the biology of the plants and animals found in this area, I have always found it important to also understand the interactions and importance of those organisms to the humans that inhabit and make a this area their home. We as human beings are so much more connected to the Earth than we often realize, with the resources around us giving us the ability to live the lives we do today. For example, within the sea turtle walk through, there was a section on various research that had been done on Loggerhead sea turtles. This also included an excerpt on the impact that humans have had on declining populations of both this species and salt water crocodiles. Globally, both of these populations are in decline from human induced threats. These include but are not limited to: getting caught in fishing nets, plastic waste, and chemical pollution in the water from industrial waste. Understanding our impact on these animals is what will be the key to unlocking an answer on how to better protect them and change our own methods in the way we live. Learning about this is vital in order to allow this species to continue to survive in the long run. For those of you who are not aware of our current itinerary for this trip, our group will be traveling on to Heron Island in the last leg of our journey to spend twelve days learning about the ecology of the island and the seas that surround it. If we are lucky, we will have the opportunity to see this endangered Loggerhead Turtle for ourselves, as they dwell in the seas around the island.
Museums are so vital for the continuing education of the general public about the serious issues surrounding the world. They are ways to help us learn and not repeat the mistakes of the past. It was an exciting experience of discovery and hands on learning. It is one that I am looking forward to repeating as we become more and more immersed in the outdoors of Australia and the biological adventures that await us from here on out. Please stay tuned for more interesting adventures to come!