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A Question of Balance :: 5:00am 30th Nov 2017

Original air date - A Question of Balance :: 7:30pm 28th Nov 2017

2017 Phillip Island restoration:Nicholas Carlile, Principal Scientist in the Conservation Science Team in the Science Division at the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, reports on moves afoot to restore Phillip Island as a sanctuary for seabirds. Phillip Island is just 6km from Norfolk Island which was set up as the food bowl for Sydney Harbour in its settlement. Phillip Island was seen as a great place to keep pigs and goats needed as food on Norfolk and also became a place for rabbits. The goats and pigs had free reign right until the 1850s so the place got stripped of vegetation. The island is made mostly of volcanic tuff, not the strongest of rock (more like compressed dust) and which is easily eroded. Phillip Island is federally managed and the Australian Parks Service has been trying to restore the island but is not keeping up with African olive, an introduced plant with fruits that birds really love. However, slowly the eroded and bare slopes are being cloaked in green. While this is predominantly with introduced olive, the soil is held together to facilitate the establishment seabird colonies and an influx of ocean-nutrients to the poor soils here. For seabirds, there are very few islands that are as spectacular as Phillip Island. It is home to the second only known population of New Zealand White-necked petrels and similar of Providence petrels and a massive population of Black-wing petrels. It is also home to the elusive and almost unknown Kermadec petrel, an endangered species in NSW with only the size of its eggs is known. The new research into seabirds involves 120 loggers being attached to birds’ legs. This presents a great opportunity to collect the information needed to manage an endangered species. Already it has shown that Kermadec petrels are successfully breeding in almost every month of the year, meaning they must have access to an offshore source of food that no other seabird species has found. Phillip Island then, is an ideal place for seabird research. Although there are no places to land, apart from rocks, it is only half an hour by boat from Norfolk so is quite accessible for researchers. How dangerous are sharks?:There are over 300 species of shark in our waters and only two or three are considered as a potential threat to humans. The main shark species considered dangerous to humans are the bull shark, the tiger shark and the great white shark even though they are shy and elusive themselves. They do, however, make great headlines when they interact with humans. Put in perspective: the chances of suffering severe trauma from a motor vehicle are far greater for pedestrians crossing a road.

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