JBL Expedition 2015 – Day 8: Endemic Zebra Shrimps and nosy Cassowaries

A night in the rainforest is very exciting. Complete darkness, no traffic noise, factories or city bustle. Here you really notice how dark night can be. It sharpens your sense of hearing and unleashes your spirit of discovery. Yet to think it’s quiet here, you’d be wrong.

Yesterday evening, after an exciting observation with a sugar glider, we went to bed in the dark. This morning the first of us woke up at 04:30 a.m. to examine our immediate surroundings. It was raining heavily and we could hear a lot of animals. It was as loud as on a main road. In the animal world all "hell" breaks loose at this time of day.

Ludwig, who has seen a lot of rainforests, said: „This is the coldest rainforest I’ve ever experienced. 18 °C is freezing for a rainforest.”

After breakfast we set off at 8:00 a.m. Unfortunately the lakes in the national park have become quite touristy, and this means that examination and observation in peace are only possible early in the morning. Luckily we had planned well.

On-site we were able to find several turtle species and to test water at various places. In the clean freshwater we spotted some seven-spot archerfish (Toxotes chatareus) - about 30 cm long- to observe.

Afterwards we drove through dense rainforest. The next destination was a mountain stream somewhere in Queensland. On the way we came across a male cassowary (a large flightless bird) with its 3 fledglings.

One of the fledglings was curious and turned towards us. Encouraged by our various bird calls, which sounded more like a gang of escaped prisoners, it came very close to us. The male quickly approached us to collect its young. We had to retreat carefully to our bus, because it is one of the world’s most dangerous birds. And with a bird able to run about 50 km/h, with a size of 1.70 m and a weight of up to 60 kg, this was the sensible thing to do. Not even our “bears” would have had a chance against that.

After the arrival at the said mountain stream we went into the water with our snorkels and cameras. Some of us analysed the first water tests. Suddenly a call: “Come here, I’ve found them!” We really had found them, the zebra shrimps Paul was talking about. Amazing animals which grazed the growth in 2-50 cm depth in big numbers. The species can only be found here and is therefore endemic. They were the only animals there.

By the way, the photo in the attachment shows how pleasant it can be to wander through the jungle. We were actually in search of shrimps. But we found interesting animals, plants or phenomena in every square meter. Like this hidden animal between the thorns.

In the early evening we drove to Paul’s shop (Aquarium World Cairns) and examined a good example of an Australian specialist aquatic retailer. Afterwards we were allowed to get a glimpse behind the doors of Cairns Marine (Australia’s largest wholesale dealer of marine life). It was Julian who personally welcomed us and presented how to keep, feed and dispatch animals professionally. This way marine water aquatics can be practiced sustainably and with a clear conscience.

After dinner, which was always a good opportunity to exchange our daily experiences, we went to bed very early. Next morning at 06:00 a.m. we continued our trip to the outback, to the “real” outback. Of course there is also rain forest in the outback, but were we are going now there will be no internet ...

© 19.10.2015
Matthias Wiesensee
Matthias Wiesensee
M.Sc. Wirtschaftsinformatik
JBL GmbH & Co. KG

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