Where’s wallaby? Spot Aussie wildlife from your computer; LOLcatz; Science Week launch in SA

Bulletins, Media bulletins, National Science Week

Today: calling on all Australians to spot wildlife – from their computers.
Wildlife scientists and ambassadors available for interviews about ‘Wildlife Spotter’ – the National Science Week project organised by the ABC.

Ecologists and wildlife researchers want to know how many endangered bettongs are left; how well native predators like quolls and devils are competing with cats for food; and how common are common wombats. Their automated cameras running day and night have taken millions of photos. But what’s in the photos? You can help.

Scientists available for interview in most states and a press call at 10am in Hobart.

Photos and overlay available. More details below

Today: Lolcatz, Santa, and Death by Dog

Andrew Masterson’s new book, launched today, explores the windier shores of science and technology research. He discusses: the influence of breasts in cyberterrorism; the role of cats in the Arab Spring; the scientifically correct method for sticking a pin in a can of Guinness; and why our future might depend on finding sympathy for bushfire arsonists.

More wild concepts below.

Thursday in Adelaide: SA’s National Science Week launch…

Feeding the world with science; science award winners; the SA science minister; and a preview of the hundreds of Science Week events in SA. More below.

Kind regards,

In this bulletin:

Where’s wallaby? Help us find bettongs, quolls, devils, wombats… citizen scientists needed to spot wildlife caught on camera

Australian wildlife scientists need your eyeballs this August to help them study where Australia’s wild things are for Wildlife Spotter—the ABC’s citizen science project for National Science Week.

Australia is a vast country. Researchers have set up automatic cameras that are snapping wildlife day and night. Now they need your help to analyse the millions of photographs they’ve captured in tropical rainforests, the dry rangelands, and around our cities.

From superb lyrebirds to common wombats, from bettongs to bandicoots, from brush turkeys to Tassie devils, and even feral cats and foxes—scientists want to know which species are roaming both in the wild and in urban areas. Participants will help answer questions including: how many endangered bettongs are left; how well native predators like quolls and devils are competing with cats for food; and how common are common wombats.

You can join in by heading to the Wildlife Spotter website at www.wildlifespotter.net.au.

You can spot wildlife for ten minutes or ten hours—every animal identified will help our scientists. Should you need extra help, you can click through a short online tutorial.

As well as helping us understand living Australia, you could win one of two Go Pro Hero 4 cameras. School participants could win a visit from Dr Karl. Register to enter the competition, which is open until Monday 5 September.

Wildlife Spotter runs from Monday 1 August onwards.

Wildlife Spotter is the online citizen science project for National Science Week 2016, undertaken by ABC Science in conjunction with the Australian Museum, Deakin University, Charles Darwin University, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Tasmanian Land Conservancy, and WWF Australia. It is supported by funding through the Australian Government Inspiring Australia strategy.

More about the project

Sign up at the Wildlife Spotter website at www.wildlifespotter.net.au.

There you’ll find instructions for classifying the different species in the images. You’ll be allocated photographs to study.

Your first batch should take no more than a few minutes to analyse. But you can do as many as you like. Each image will be classified by five different people to see if the results agree.

Everyone with regular vision and a computer or tablet with access to the internet can get involved and help our scientists find out who lives in our wild and urban areas.

Participants can get started straight away, and they can register for a chance win a Go Pro Hero 4 camera. And schools have the chance to win a visit from Dr Karl Kruszelnicki to their school.

Our vast country represents a huge area for field scientists to cover if they’re to monitor numbers and health of wildlife species in our changing environment.

Automated cameras, or ‘camera traps’, help scientists cover a lot of ground and observe animals in their natural environment by sensing movement, which triggers a photo to be taken. And they work through the night, with infrared or heat-sensing cameras.

With cameras like these set up all over Australia, millions of photos are generated, creating a huge picture of the different species that live around us. But scientists need help to go through all of the photos.

The projects you’ll be supporting

  • Bandicoots in south-central Victoria – a pocket of threatened bandicoots are thriving on Victoria’s urban fringes – how are they doing this? And what happens when they start living in drains and eating out of cat food bowls? Help monitor their population and keep an eye on their predators.
  • Marsupials in Tasmania – Tasmanian Land Conservancy manages about 15 biodiversity reserves to protect these unique species. Help their conservation scientists keep an eye on bandicoots, bettongs and potoroos—and the threats to them, such as feral cats and deer—so they can better manage these sanctuaries for wildlife.
  • Northern bettongs in Far North Queensland – Australia’s rat-kangaroo is a rare marsupial. Help scientists work out how many of this threatened species are left.
  • Animals in NSW – How many wombats, pademelons, kangaroos, foxes and other animals are out there? We simply don’t know. Help the ‘WildCount’ scientists find out.
  • Northern Territory’s arid zone – What wild things—such as dingos, emus, lizards, spinifex pigeons, kangaroos and mice—are living in the arid lands? Counting animals at waterholes in Watarrka National Park and the desert in Kata Tjuta National Park will help scientists manage these biodiversity hotspots.
  • Managing malleefowl – How often are foxes visiting the native malleefowl’s large mound nest of earth and decomposing leaf litter? And how can we help keep them safe?

Read more about these projects at www.wildlifespotter.net.au

Fifteen ecologists, zoologists, scientists and science communicators from around the country are available for interviews about Wildlife Spotter.

Media kit, images, and other resources at www.scienceinpublic.com.au.

For further information contact:

Wildlife Spotter press call with wildlife 10am, near Hobart

Project partner the Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC) is holding a press call with animals, scientists and junior citizen scientists.

Address: Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, 593 Briggs Rd, Brighton


  • Dr Sally Bryant (TLC Conservation and Science and Planning manager) will introduce Wildlife Spotter and explain the Tasmanian Land Conservancy’s role
  • Matt Taylor (TLC Conservation Ecologist) will demonstrate how Wildlife Spotter works
  • Greg Irons (Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary Director) will introduce us to some of the animals that might pop up in the Wildlife Spotter images

More information: Stephenie Cahalan 0417 699 917

New book: LOLcatz, Santa and Death by Dog – Strange and True Tales from Science and Technology

Published today; author Andrew Masterson available for interviews

Join Andrew Masterson as he takes a gleeful romp along the windier shores of science and technology research.

In this fascinating collection of stories, journalist Andrew Masterson looks at some of the strange and startling research taking place away from the media spotlight.

He discovers attempts to clone dogs, mammoths and John Lennon; explores the biology of Wookies; traces how the Arab Spring was actually started by internet cats; and investigates the deep history of food fads, pausing occasionally to interview some of the giants in the field, including cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson, US ‘science guy’ Bill Nye, and America’s most wanted man, Edward Snowden.

The stories in Lolcatz, Santa, and Death by Dog are by turns curious, deeply moving, and straight-up funny. They are a must for anyone who marvels at the fruits of human curiosity, and finds great satisfaction in the realisation that reality is often more bizarre than anything in the realms of fantasy or fiction.

“Masterson has a keen eye for an entertaining science yarn, matches meticulous research with the ability to fascinate and entertain. His knack of uncovering the peculiar and revealing the ridiculous is second to none.”

Sonya Pemberton, Emmy Award–winning producer

Ebury Australia | RRP $34.99 | Publication date: 01 August 2016

About Andrew Masterson

Andrew Masterson is a journalist, editor and author. He writes frequently on science, technology and popular culture for publications including The Age, Sydney Morning

Herald, and Cosmos, as well as contributing to science documentaries made by Emmy Award-winning Melbourne company, Genepool Productions. He has also had several novels published, of which two have won the Ned Kelly Award for crime fiction.

He lives in central Victoria with his wife, son, cat, two elderly Staffordshire bull terriers and, at last count, five chickens

For further information please contact:

Tamika Wood
Penguin Random House
+61 (2) 8923 9827

The science of feeding the world, the Surfing Scientist, and Daleks – South Australia’s National Science Week and Science Alive! launch

4 August 2016, launch at 5pm Goyder Pavilion Mezzanine, Wayville Showgrounds

  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Science winner Prof Graham Farquhar, presenting on ‘Feeding the World’
  • hosted by The Curiosity Show presenter and Science Week patron Dr Rob Morrison
  • SA Minister for Science and Information Economy Kyam Maher attending
  • announcement of award winners, including the Unsung Heroes of SA Science and Science Communication, and the AIP-SA Excellence in Physics Teaching Award

Details: www.scienceweek.net.au/launch-of-national-science-week-in-sa

More about Science in Public

We’re always happy to help put you in contact with scientists. Our work is funded by the science world – from the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes to Nature. We’re keen to suggest interesting people and stories – and not just those of our clients.

If you’re looking for ideas or people for features we know hundreds of science prize winners past, present, and future and are always happy to chew the fat about the developing themes in Australian science.

Feel free to pass these stories along to colleagues. And between bulletins, you can follow me on Twitter (@scienceinpublic) for more science news and story tips.
Kind regards,

Niall Byrne

Creative Director
Science in Public

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