11 May 2006

The Great Barrier Reef: The Animals

Our tour today covers some of the animals we encountered on our trip to Queensland. The first picture is of a red footed booby that took a break one night on our ship. Other than the beak, he looked like a duck until he spread his wings--very long and narrow.
We had a short return to Cairns
on Friday before heading back out, so Heather and I took a tour of a crocodile farm just outside of town. The next picture is of an 800kg monster saltwater crocodile at the farm. He was one of their breeders but is currently living out his retirement in a private pen enjoying free chicken dinners every day. He was about five or six metres long and they estimated about eighty five years old. The second croc photo is some of the youngsters in what the tour guide called the "handbag area". These are two to
three years old. We learned that they are raised in these pens, grouped by age, until they are four, at which time their hides are "harvested". Four is the limit because they start getting territorial at that point. It isn't cost effective to keep them individually and if you leave them in groups, they'll tear each other up--women like their expensive Hermes handbags defect-free. Read a Sydney Morning Herald article here for more info and a picture of the final product.
While walking across Hitchinbrook Island,
we saw this goanna making itself at home on someone's resort boardwalk. It doesn't look all that big in the picture, but it's about a metre and a half long. Claws like an eagle, too--click the pic and get a look at them. Pretty amazing what you can see while hiking across a GBR island.
We had some time before our flight out on Monday, so we paid a visit to the Cairns Rainforest Dome. It had many rainforest animals roaming free for you to see and perhaps interact with.
Pictured is a frogmouth, but Heather kept calling it the "little grumpy bird". They also had several cockatoos, one of which climbed from my arm up to my shoulder where he proceeded to chew on my hat. What can I say--animals like me. We also saw koalas, a croc (neither of which were roaming free like the other
animals--"darn" and "whew!" respectively), kookaburras, pademelons [which are like rainforest wallabies (which are like small kangaroos)], pythons, frogs and turtles. The croc's name is Goliath, and he is one of only two crocs to leave the previously mentioned crocodile farm alive. Big time bonus points to anyone who can identify the other one. There are a few other adventures worth mentioning at the Dome, but I'm saving them for another entry.


Anonymous said...



Linda Knight said...

Amazing trip! Our dream is to one day cruise down your way! We'll see - in the meantime - I sure am enjoying your blog and 'seeing' the life down under!