The Final Countdown

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Well us Spartans survived the land down under! Our final day was a bittersweet one. The morning was spent grabbing some last-minute gifts and souvenirs for those back home and adding the final touches to our poster presentations.

When 3.00 o’clock rolled around we all gathered in the tv room ready to present our projects. Our task was to design a project and include a mixed methods approach. We could choose any topic we wanted, whatever we were interested in. Three out of the four groups chose to focus on different fish species from the Great Barrier Reef. While our limited amount of available wifi hindered our abilities to gather quantitative data, qualitative data could still be collected. Snorkeling and diving on the Great Barrier Reef provided excellent opportunities for us to make observations of fish, turtles, sharks, and coral. To see one of the seven natural wonders of the world was truly an incredible experience and left the scientists in us with many questions.

Topics that a few of the groups chose to focus on included:

  • Human-Wrasse Interactions in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Parrotfish relationships on the Great Barrier Reef (parrotfish pictured below)
  • Predator responses to defensive displays by Cuttlefish

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My group chose to go in a different direction and focus on the brumby (wild horse) population on Fraser Island. We were interested in how available food sources on the largest sand island in the world (Fraser Island) affected the health of the small herd of brumbies and if these horses were making any adaptations in order to survive. While we were unable to provide any first-hand qualitative data we were able to come up with a plan as to how we would collect both qualitative and quantitative data and asses the herd. Our research would provide information that may even help solve the controversy regarding the decision of if the brumbies should be completely removed from the island.

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After presentations, we did a quick recap of our 4 weeks in Australia. Staying in Brisbane,  Byron Bay, and Cairns really gave us an understanding and insight to a really incredible culture. We learned about the benefits and even set backs to universal healthcare, the meaning of a living-wage, and what it’s really like to have “no worries”. Our trips to Fraser Island, the Daintree rainforest, Cape Tribulation, both sub-tropical and tropical rainforests, and the Great Barrier Reef let us explore the natural environments of Australia. We learned about different plant and animal life, plant relationships – competitive and symbiotic – defense mechanisms of both flora and fauna, and of course about all the things that could kill us while we trekked through the rainforest and walked along the beaches.

Our motto quickly became “deadly until otherwise specified”. This included (and is not limited to) the stinging tree (yes even some of the trees will get you), dingoes, crocs, snakes, jellyfish, spiders, and cassowaries.

Our incredible experience ended at the Saltwater House where we ate one final meal together.

Saturday morning is an early travel day with some heading home and others starting a new adventure in New Zealand!

Cheers and safe travels everyone!

By: Megan Bolger

 

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