Biodiversity in July: serpents, dolphins and Mr Blobby

International Year of Biodiversity

Welcome to July’s biodiversity bulletin with news and events throughout Australia—and also to Mr Blobby (see right, more details below). 

In the next few weeks you can contribute to a sculpture serpent in Sydney, meet Adelaide’s river dolphins; follow Burke and Wills to Castlemaine; build a bat box in Perth; come face to face with a supercrocodilian in Darwin; and build environmental resilience at the Caloundra Gallery—all as part of the International Year of Biodiversity.

This is just some of what’s happening around the country; for full details of events and activities near you, read more below and visit

Many organisations are now using the website to promote their events. We are also keen to see photos, event reports and news posted there. It’s easy to use, so please help us build the buzz for the year. Visit the Your Say page at to contribute your photos, stories and tweets.

We were pleased to receive 30 applications for our third grants round which closed earlier this week. Successful applicants should hear from us within two weeks.

In other biodiversity news:

Oscar Arriagada, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, has just announced that the Australian International Year of Biodiversity project has been accepted as an official partner with the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. Find out more about the Convention on Biological Diversity at

Eighty countries voted recently in Korea to establish a global body to tackle biodiversity loss. The Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) will bridge the gap between scientific research and political action on biodiversity. It will be established at the UN General Assembly in September.

“The essence of this vision is to ensure environmental sustainability while pursuing development,” said the meeting’s chairman Chan-Woo Kim.

Darwin has been named Australia’s most sustainable city by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF). The judges looked at key indicators including biodiversity, air quality and water. While Darwin scored highest and excelled in biodiversity, Perth was the least sustainable city. All Australian cities, however, need to work harder to reduce their ecological footprint, the ACF says.

Crack Theatre Festival project coordinators David Finnegan and Gillian Schwab have been liaising with Masters of Space and Time (MOSAT) to produce an original theatre performance on the theme of biodiversity. It will focus on human-triggered biodiversity loss. MOSAT, Crack and the Australian Museum team met in Sydney last week to confirm details for Sydney performances.

The winners of the 2010 United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Awards were announced on Friday 4 June at the Awards Presentation Dinner. For a full list of winners and finalists for the awards, visit

See for more details, and to register your activities. Our next bulletin will cover August events. We are keen to communicate with anyone with an interest in biodiversity. Please pass this bulletin on to others you think might like to receive it.


Niall Byrne, Science in Public on behalf of the Australian steering committee, International Year of Biodiversity.


Mr Blobby campaigns for biodiversity

Biodiversity conferences

Biodiversity events coming up

Mr Blobby campaigns for biodiversity

Perhaps you have heard about the not-so-cute Mr Blobby who featured on the ABC’s Gruen Transfer last week. Advertising agencies were invited to ‘sell’ him as part of a conservation campaign. They came up with some novel takes on how such a campaign could be fronted by something not so cute and cuddly.

Mr Blobby, a fish from the family Psychrolutidae who was found off the coast of New Zealand in 2003, now boasts more than 500 friends on Facebook (become one here), is on Twitter, and can be seen in all his blobby goodness at the Australian Museum in the ALIVE exhibition.

Biodiversity conferences

Over the coming months, several conferences will celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity. If you are interested in registering or submitting an abstract please visit the conference website. Here is a selection:

Biodiversity and World Food Security
The Crawford Fund Parliamentary Conference
30 August – 1 September 2010, Canberra
For further details see

The Politics of Biodiversity
NELA National Conference
20-23 October 2010, Canberra
For further details see

From Discovery to Delivery: Science, Policy, Leadership and Action
EIANZ Conference
26-29 October 2010, Wellington NZ
For further details see

Sustaining biodiversity: the next 50 years
Ecological Society of Australia – annual conference
6-10 December 2010
For further details see

Biodiversity events coming up

Click on the link or visit for full details of each event, and to see newly added events.

Australian Capital Territory

Marine Biodiversity Hub Exhibition at Questacon – Ensuring a future for life in Australia’s oceans

Until 31 July, Questacon, Canberra

The exhibition contains images from Marine Biodiversity Hub partners (and a few more) and is curated by Mark Norman, Head of Science at Museum Victoria. The aim is to reach out to the general public (especially school students) and raise their awareness of the beauty and fragility of Australia’s marine biodiversity.

New South Wales

Biodiversity and the Arts

11 September, 2010

The event is a pilot project for the Sydney Consortium, a UWS initiative which brings together key cultural institutions in Sydney. The theme of biodiversity and the arts will be approached in relation to three things that challenge the imagination and are therefore difficult to understand: ‘the world and everything in it’; ‘how things go together’; and ‘that things end’.

The events will involve two main components: works of visual art and poetry will be staged in the main exhibition space of the museum during the day, featuring work by artists and poets.

In the afternoon a panel of invited speakers from a range of disciplines will address the themes set out above, including the Miles Franklin award-winning novelist Alexis Wright, Astronomer and former Young Australian of the Year Brian Gaensler, and the philosopher Nikolas Kompridis.


Until 19 September, Australian Museum, Sydney

For the International Year of Biodiversity the Australian Museum has delved back into its historical stores to discover its own “world-wide” collection. These are objects we don’t normally display, revealed for just a few months in this special year.

Fashion Less Waste 2010: Biodiverse

Until 30 June, Strand Arcade/Australian Museum, Sydney

The Australian Museum’s annual Fashion Less Waste competition. Design winners and runners-up in each category will be on temporary public display at the Strand Arcade through June. Then they will be on temporary public display at the Australian Museum.

Serpent alive

Until 19 September, Australian Museum, Sydney.

You are invited to add to a sculptured serpent by weaving recycled materials to form a species-scape to symbolically portray the relative abundances of various life forms on earth. This sculpture will be a part of our Alive Program. Your help will bring this species scape Alive!

Born again beasties

Until 19 September, Australian Museum, Sydney.

Create a beastie born from recycled materials! Using a variety of recycled objects create your own beastie to represent an animal, plant, insect, spider or whatever your imagination can conjure. These mini sculptures will be displayed as a part of the International Year of Biodiversity and our Alive Program.

Out of the lab

1pm daily (2pm during school holidays), until 17 September, Australian Museum, Sydney.

Australian Museum scientists and researchers come out of their labs/offices to the Alive Program to mingle with the visitors in a variety of ways to highlight their research or collections. Activities include slide shows of field trips and/or specimens, discussing their work and how it relates to biodiversity, interactive activities and more!

Fantastic fungi in the interdependency of species

6:30 – 8:15pm, 1 July, Australian Museum, Sydney

Illustrated with never-before-seen photographs, Ray and Elma Kearney present some fascinating examples of the relationships between fungi and other organisms. It’s an awesome world where mushrooms glow in the dark and communicate using chemicals.

The marvellous mammals of Australasia

6:30pm – 8:15pm, 15 July, Australian Museum, Sydney

Australasia is the only place on the planet where you can find all three groups of living mammals – monotremes, marsupials and placentals. Mark Eldridge talks about his research which focuses on rock-wallabies and tree-kangaroos, and the secrets revealed by DNA technology.

Northern Territory

Exhibition: Supercrocodilians: Darwin’s ultimate survival story

Until 20 January 2011, Museum and Art Gallery, Darwin

Come face to face with one of the largest crocodilians known to have ever existed, which may have measured more than 12 metres in length.

Parks Alive in the Top End

Until 30 September, Northern Territory National Parks

If you’d like to hear about wicked wetlands, riparian rambles, seashell stories or the passions of a ranger then head along to some of the Top End’s magnificent parks and reserves as the Territory Parks Alive program for 2010 has now commenced.


Biodiversity as infrastructure: Bio-diverse-city

Until 4 July, Caloundra Regional Art Gallery

This unique art exhibition concept explores new ideas about building social and environmental resilience through diversity.

Steve Irwin Memorial Lecture

6:15pm, 6 July, Eagle Street Conference Centre 175 Eagle St, Brisbane

Wildlife biologist, filmmaker and author, Dr Chadden Hunter has worked on a range of wildlife conservation films for the BBC, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and National Geographic. His latest project ‘Frozen Planet’ has seen him recently return from four months in Antarctica where he and Sir David Attenborough are documenting the effects of climate change on the polar regions.

South Australia

Diversity at sea: port river dolphins

Until 10 December, South Australian Maritime Museum, Port Adelaide

School students in all year levels can explore the rich biodiversity of South Australia’s marine bioregions. The program draws in depth from the local and topical example of the Port River dolphin pod and students will engage in innovative and experiential activities, including role-play and storytelling, using the South Australian Maritime Museum’s resources. It will be available during school terms in 2010.

2010 Kangaroo Island planting festival

2 – 4 July, Lower Cygnet Valley, Kangaroo Island

Looking to volunteer with an environmental project making a big difference? The Kangaroo Island Planting Festival is three days of intensive planting activity to help restore the habitat of Kangaroo Island’s rarest plant life. Over the three days 80,000 plants will be planted and 40 kg of seed spread to reinstate over 40 ha of threatened plant habitat in the highly cleared lower Cygnet Valley on Kangaroo Island.

Murray Bridge Roadshow July 2010

10:30am – 2pm, 29 July

10:30am – 2pm, 30 July

10am – 3pm, 31 July

Murray Bridge Town Hall, 2 Seventh Street, Murray Bridge

The South Australian Museum’s Out of the Glass Case roadshow program is returning to the Murraylands to showcase scientific and cultural collections and stories related to the Murraylands region through school workshops and a community day.


A Year of Wonder in the Island Arc

Until 21 December, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart

Hands-on real science and the wonder of discovery! Choose one or more of these elegant and achievable programs at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.


Bug Blitz

20 August 2010, Castlemaine

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Burke and Wills expedition, the Royal Society, Bug Blitz and other partners are following in their footsteps. And while doing so they will be engaging students in a series of ‘hands on’ investigations of biodiversity in local habitats, raising awareness about the importance of science in our lives, and sharing knowledge of science via the arts.

Wild: amazing animals in a changing world

Until 30 December, Museum Victoria, Nicholson St, Carlton Gardens.

Be surrounded by the wonderful diversity of mammals, birds and reptiles from around the world. Experience Victorian environments such as alps, grassland, wetlands and discover why biodiversity is under threat and get clues about how we can create a more hopeful future.

Western Australia

Amazing nature photography

29 April- 6 July, Western Australian Museum – Maritime, Fremantle

13 July- 28 August, Western Australian Museum- Kalgoorlie-Boulder

ANZANG Nature Photography is an exhibition that celebrates the depth and diversity of nature in Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the New Guinea region through the eye of the nature photographer.

Great gardens workshops

6 – 9pm, 29 June, Community Room, Recreation Centre, Derby

6 – 9pm, 1 July, Marble Bar Civic Centre, Marble Bar

8:30 – 9:30pm, 2 July, Gallop Hall, Nullagine

6- 9pm, 2 July, Newman Recreation Centre, Newman

6 – 9pm, 3 July, Shire Hall, Meekatharra

Great Gardens has been a huge success with over 44,500 people attending one of 520 workshops held throughout the Perth Metro area and rural Western Australia since September 2003. Our workshops focus on Waterwise, Fertiliserwise, Energywise, Moneywise and Environmentwise ways we can all live in Western Australia.

Wild Antarctica

10am – 2pm, 4 – 18 July (excluding Wednesdays and Saturdays), Western Australia Museum – Maritime, Fremantle

Come and join the wonderful wildlife of Antarctica during the July school holidays. Make your own Penguin Craft sculpture and decorate your ‘Wild Antarctica’ pop-up. You can also guess which animal is the best in ‘Antarctic Deep Diving’ Competition.

Bat box building with nest box specialist Joe Tonga

9am, 8 July, Perth Zoo

Did you know that there are bats flying around after dark in Perth? You may never see them but they’re there! Come to Perth Zoo to learn about microbats from local bat expert Joe Tonga. Then build your own bat box to provide much needed homes for the microbats of Perth.

‘Dingo trail scavenger hunt’ children’s competition

3pm, 9 – 10 July, Kununurra Agricultural Society Show Grounds, Corner of Ivanhoe Rd and Coolibah Drive, Kununurra

As part of the Kununurra Agricultural Society 38th Annual Show a competition is being run for children 6-9yrs and 10-13yrs to follow the dingo tracks and clues from one habitat to another, collecting objects and answering questions. Prizes to be won include a family stay at the Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge, passes to Australia Zoo and more.

Seabirds of Western Australia

6pm, 9 July, NWS Theatre WA Museum – Maritime, Fremantle

Take a journey with Ron Johnstone, Curator of Ornithology on the seabird highway that runs from eastern Indonesia to the sub-Antarctic. From the equator to the poles, seabirds are a health marker for our seas.

Wild about animals

9am – 1pm, 13 -15 July, Education and Conference Centre, Perth Zoo

Join Perth Zoo and RSPCA for a fun-filled day learning about how to care for animals. Children 10-14 Years visit behind the scenes with Zoo animals. They also learn how the RSPCA cares for animals and discover ways to improve the care of some special ones.

Cockatoos in crisis

12pm, 16 July, Glauert Room – Perth Cultural Centre

Ron Johnstone, Curator of Ornithology at the WA Museum will take a look at three endemic, endangered cockatoos, Baudin’s, Carnaby’s and the Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, and learn about their unique conservation challenges.

Collecting marine life in the Kimberley

7pm, 22 – 23 July, Western Australian Museum – Albany, Co-operative Building

The WA Museum has been investigating marine fauna in the Kimberley for over 30 years. And all this done in the sometimes hair-raising territory of sharks and crocodiles! This lecture is part of the The Harry Butler lecture series, In the Wild West.

Mini muses – Cathy Coolbardie

10 – 11:30am, 29 July, WA Museum – Albany

In the world of magpies, being the boss is all a matter of black and white! Find out why being boss is not all good news. Mini Muses are a fun series of junior sessions (children 5 years and under) which will introduce your child to the wonderful native creatures of Western Australia. You will have the chance to meet live animals such as possums, turtles, lizards and kangaroos and their wildlife carers.

To get your event mentioned in the next bulletin, please add it to the online biodiversity event calendar.


This bulletin has been sent by Niall Byrne, Science in Public, on behalf of the program steering committee.

Contact: Michael Harvey

Member, Australian steering committee, International Year of Biodiversity,

and Head of Exhibitions & Creative Services, Australian Museum or (02) 9320 6043

This initiative is supported by the Science Connections Program, Questacon, Commonwealth Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.