Thursday, March 17, 2011
Soo…. maybe it wasn’t the best idea in the world to go St. Patty’s bar hopping the night before I would have to wake up early for a field trip in my terrestrial Australia class. As we all waited for the buses to pick us up from one of the school bus stops, everyone else talked and mulled about in a chipper fashion… while I sat on the curb, leaned forward with my head resting on my knees, thinking of mistakes from last night. I blame the oversized Asian man…
When the buses finally showed, we all piled on and headed for Brisbane Forest Park. The bus I went on headed to a sort of nature center first with a few animal exhibits. Of the animals we saw, one special one was the quoll, an endangered carnivorous marsupial. The quoll’s story was kind of interesting, but stuck with me particularly because I’ve been hearing similar stories over and over again since I’ve been in Australia.
A good part of the reason why the quoll is endangered is because of the cane toad. The cane toad is a big, common, and pretty ugly toad that is NOT native to Australia. Awhile back, there were problems with beetles messing with the sugar cane fields in Australia and Cane toads were introduced from South America to Aussie land as a form of biological control (meant to eat the sugar cane beetles and stop the damage to the sugar cane crop). However, shit went downhill pretty fast because it turned out that the cane toads weren’t that interested in destroying the beetles. They were, however, quite interested in going at it like bunnies and reproducing as if it was nobodies business. They adapted to all types of living conditions and spread across most of the country. And due to the two big poison sacs on its back, any predator (such as the quoll) who could help control the species outbreak would die soon after eating one of the toads…
It really is a sad story and it makes you want to kick any cane toad you may come across (which most people must do because around 5-6 am the streets and sidewalks are littered with dead toad carcasses). But I hear that there is hope! Some animals, like the ibis, have learned to flip the toads over on their backs and eat them belly first, avoiding the poison sacs on their backs. However, it seems like there’s just too little too late, or maybe just too few, when it comes to the animals using this attack method.
But after the nature center, we went to an amazing lookout and talked about different types of rock formations and soil types.
After the lookout we then headed into one of the rainforests in Brisbane Forest Park. I learned about vines, the different types of eucalyptus trees, strangler figs, lungfish, koalas, chlamydia, survival of the fittest, turkeys… I just learned a whole lot on this trip. I know more about Australia’s terrain and vegetation than I do of the state in the US where I’ve been attending school for 3 years now. Seriously. I can identify a handful of eucalyptus tree by scientific name now. It’s actually pretty bad ass.
But overall, today was pretty epic because I got to hike through a rainforest, see and walk amongst some interesting animals, and play with dirt while learning at the same time! [Ask me any question about Australia’s terrain or fauna. I dare you. Come at me with any intellectual query you’ve got. I double dog dare you to make a fool of yourself by trying to step to my my knowledge of the hills, forests, and planes. Yeah, that’s what I thought…]