JBL Expedition 2015: California, South Seas & Australia

JBL Expedition 2015: California, South Seas & Australia

From the Jungle to the Sacred Mountain in the Outback

Even though we were primarily interested in herpetological research and reptiles, we couldn’t miss seeing Ayers Rock, whose aboriginal name is Uluru. But first of all, on our arrival after a 3-hour flight, we were to meet those inhabitants of the outback who outnumber all the others by far: the flies. Millions of flies were waiting for us, their new victims, at the airport, as we unsuspectingly climbed out of the aircraft. They swamped our mouths, ears and noses and we couldn’t buy head-protecting netting fast enough. From that moment on we viewed the outback through nets until sunset. At sunset the flies disappeared without a trace, only to return in the morning, just before sunrise.

Our team visited various places between Ayers Rock and Alice Springs to learn about the habitats of the animals in the outback. Because, after all, the most popular lizards of our terrarium enthusiasts origin from just this area. But unfortunately we found neither bearded dragons nor frill-necked lizards. We couldn’t even find the fairly common thorny dragon, even though there were 14 of us searching for it. We thus learnt the hard way that it is really very difficult to find lizards in the vastness of the outback! On the second day, however, we managed to observe monitors, skinks and other small lizard species and we noted down their habitat data. Most impressive were the temperature measurements of the ground. The red sand actually reached a temperature of 63 °C around noon. It was the highest ground temperature we have ever measured. Everyone wearing sandals had to hop back into the truck after 1-2 seconds. The UVA and UVB values were also the highest ever measured on a JBL expedition. At this point a special thanks is due again to Sophi, who measured and catalogued all the biotope data literally everywhere. At these temperatures this was really going the extra mile. In the evening we reached our first camp in the outback where we spent the night either in the tent or out in the open air. Andreas described his first night that way: “Sometimes I felt something crawling over me. Then I just kept quiet, hoping that it would soon go on crawling.” Despite this experience, Andreas and most of the others, didn’t want to sleep in the tent anymore, preferring instead the open air on the ground. Being close to nature is really addictive!

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