Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Science talks continue in Broome – shorebirds, dinosaurs, bilbies and jellyfish

[June 2015]

The first of the Science on the Broome Coast talks for 2015 was held this month, featuring passionate birder Chris Hassell.

The Science on Broome Coast talks are hosted by the Roebuck Bay Working Group (RBWG) and Yawuru Land and Sea Unit, and sponsored by Inspiring Australia, the Western Australian Marine Science Institute, Broome Visitor Centre, and Rangelands NRM through funding from the Australian Federal Government.

RBWG Project Manager Kandy Curran said the inaugural 2014 Science on the Broome Coast series was a great success, gauged by the enthusiastic audiences and a stream of media attention. Funding for the innovative series of presentations has been continued until 2016.

Chris presented ˜Tracking the remarkable journeys of the migratory shorebirds of Roebuck Bay and Eighty Mile Beach‘ on the spacious verandah of the Broome Visitor Centre, on the evening of 17 June.

For the past twenty years Chris has studied the migratory shorebirds of Roebuck Bay and Eighty Mile Beach, with the aim of unravelling their unique biology.

In so doing, Chris and his flock of volunteer researchers have had to become mobile too, flying across the world from their feeding grounds near Broome to the birds ‘staging grounds’ at the Yellow Sea and breeding grounds in the high Arctic.

Ms Curran said the purpose of the Science on the Broome Coast series is to showcase the findings from scientific research in Roebuck Bay and along the Kimberley coast.

“The initiative also aims to encourage the Broome community and visitors to realise opportunities to get involved, as citizen scientists, in local projects that make a contribution to scientific understanding and better coastal management and protection,” she said.

Palaeontologist Dr Steve Salisbury will provide the second enthralling presentation on 7 July 2015.

Dr Salisbury’s timely research on the cretaceous dinosaur tracks of the Dampier Peninsula helped to secure recent National Heritage Listing for large sections of the West Kimberley Coast.

With the help of robotic experts from CSIRO and a remote sensing team from Airborne Research Australia, Dr Salisbury and his team has been recording hundreds of tracks along the West Kimberley coastline with drones, LiDAR aircraft and photo imaging. Using sophisticated software, the advanced digital vision they have collected is creating three dimensional images of the tracks, which will provide an invaluable resource for conservation and research.

Other presentations planned include ‘A Yawuru conservation estate for Roebuck Bay’ and ‘Monitoring bilbies using DNA fingerprinting’.  With new bilby populations found within the Shire of Broome this year, it is timely for Dr Martin Dziminski to showcase his research on this iconic and much adored Australian marsupial.

On 17 August Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin, Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Service Director, will provide a fascinating presentation on the known distribution of Irukandji and Box jellyfish including in Broome’s waters, and on the large blooms of ‘sea tomato jellies’ experienced in recent years.

Dr Gershwin, a marine biologist and author of the book Stung! will talk about the main stingers in Broome’s waters, handy tips to avoid getting stung and the current treatments for stings.

View the Science on the Broome Coast program.


1.      First presentation by Dr Chris Hassell on the verandah at the Broome Visitor’s Centre (Photo: Grey Mackay)

2.      Dr Chris Hassell talk poster

3.      Dr Steve Salisbury talk poster.