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Tangalooma Marine Education & Conservation Centre

Eco Certified Ecotourism

Surrounded by 98% national park and built on the picturesque shores of Moreton Island, the Tangalooma Marine Education and Conservation Centre provides an up-close and personal look into the wonderful world of Moreton Bay. A passionate and dedicated team of Eco Rangers provide a wide range of Eco Walks, Tours and Presentations for all ages and backgrounds. These tours are designed to interactively educate people about conservation and their surrounding eco systems. Through education, attitudes can be changed and people can become aware of their environments so they can start making a difference. 

The Marine Education and Conservation Centre (TMECC) is unique from any other facility as the environment is right on the doorstep, with endangered animals frequently passing the shores. Dolphins, Dugongs, Whales, Turtles, Rays, Marine Birds and so much more can be seen daily with interpretative taks provided by the TMECC Eco Rangers. 

TMECC aims to educate young children with an established program called Eco Marines. Eco Marines is a non-for-profit environmental program that assists and sponsors community engagement in advocacy and action to protect domestic and international waterways, rivers, oceans and wildlife.

 
Thursday, 6 February 2014
‘Bluespotted Maskray (Neotrygon kuhlii)

Bluespotted Maskray (Neotrygon kuhlii)

The bluespotted maskray is a medium sized stingray species, growing up to 40cm in disc width, and 70cm in total length. It is brown-grey in coloration, with faint blue/black spots along its back, as well as a dark band across the eyes. This species of ray is distributed throughout the tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific, and is found along the north coast of Australia, from central Western Australia to northern New South Wales.

The bluespotted maskray is adapted for life on the sea floor; with a flattened body, eyes on top of the head, and its mouth on the underside. This ray feeds on a variety of animals that live in the sand, including crustaceans, mollusks, worms and small fish. To find their prey, rays have an amazing extra sense known as electroreception, which allows them to sense electrical impulses given off by an animal’s twitching muscles. This includes things even as small as an animal’s heartbeat, which is something they can never switch off. The ray will swim above the surface of the sand, and when it feels these electrical impulses beneath itself; it will dig down into the sand, pin the prey down with its pectoral fins and chomp down on its prey. Instead of having teeth, rays have fused crushing plates in their mouths, which are perfect for cracking open the shells of their prey.

Stingrays are armed with venomous barbs on their tails, which are purely used for defense. To avoid getting stung, just give these animals some distance, never touch or grab them, and while walking through shallow sandy areas, shuffle your feet through the sand. The rays will feel the vibrations and swim off before you get too close. Rays are an amazing group of animals, with over 500 species worldwide, and many yet to be discovered! These photos were taken out the front of Tangalooma.

Eco Ranger Pat

Posted by Ben
Thursday, 30 January 2014
Tessellate Moray

“Tessellate Moray (Gymnothorax favagineus)

 

The tessellate moray is a large species of moray eel found within the Indo-West Pacific. They grow up to 1.8m in length, but may potentially get as large as 3m. Like most species of moray, they lack pectoral and pelvic fins, giving them a snake like appearance. Tessellate morays are also referred to as honeycomb morays, from the beautiful black and white honeycomb patterning on their body.

Moray eels are nocturnal hunters, and have small eyes and poor vision, so they rely on their sense of smell for hunting. They eat a wide variety of fish, crustaceans and molluscs. Within their throat they actually have a second set of jaws, called pharyngeal jaws, which restrain captured prey and transport it to the back of the throat.

During the day, morays are often found living in a small hole or crevice in a reef, or a burrow in the sand, with just their head poking out. When encountered, they often have their mouth open, showing off their big teeth, and many people think that this is an aggressive display. What they are actually doing is pumping water through their mouth and over their gills, so they can breathe while sitting still.

Morays are quite shy and timid animals, but will attack in defence if provoked or threatened. To avoid being bitten, just give them a good bit of distance and never touch or grab them. Hand feeding morays is also a bad idea. As they have poor eyesight, they have trouble distinguishing fingers from food, so will more than likely bite the hand too. People have lost fingers from being bitten by a moray, so it’s a better idea just to leave them in peace and marvel at their beauty from a safe distance! These photos were taken at the Tangalooma shipwrecks.”

Eco Ranger Pat

Posted by Ben
Tuesday, 21 January 2014
Big Eye Trevally

“The big eye trevally is a common predatory fish distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific, and found around inshore and offshore reefs and seamounts down to depths of 100m. They can be distinguished from other trevallies in having a dark second dorsal fin with a white tip, as well as a small black spot high up on their operculum (gill cover; located a few cm behind the eye). They grow up to 120cm in length and 18kg in weight.

 

During the day you may see these fish in large schools (up to 1500 individuals!) moving slowly around various forms of structure, but at night they break off from the school to hunt. They eat a wide variety of fish, crustaceans and molluscs. This differs too many other trevallies, which are mainly diurnal (daytime) hunters.

 

Big eye trevally mature at around 42cm in length, and they form large mating aggregations to reproduce. Pairs speedily break away from this aggregation and swim belly to belly to spawn. After successful spawning they will return back into the aggregation. These two photos were taken at the Tangalooma shipwrecks, where large schools of big eye trevally are always encountered under certain parts of the wrecks.”

Posted by Ben
Monday, 23 September 2013
Blue Swimmer Crab

“Blue swimmer crab (Portunus arnatus)

Blue swimmer crabs (also known as sand crabs) are specialised for swimming in the water, with their back pair of legs being paddle shaped. When they swim they use these ‘paddles’ to pull themselves sideways through the water. When they are not swimming, they usually are buried in the sand, with just their eyes protruding.

As a crustacean, blue swimmer crabs moult their shells in order to grow. The crab will moult the old shell and enter a soft bodied stage. During the soft bodied stage, the crab will swell up with water to expand its body size, and will grow the new hard shell over the top. Following the growth of the new shell, the crab will gradually replace the water with body tissues. This process will repeat several times throughout the life of the crab.

Blue swimmer crabs are a popular food species of crab and are quite popular with fisherman. In Queensland, as well as most of Australia, there are fishing regulations in place to ensure that these crab stocks are sustainable, so please always follow these laws. The minimum size limit for blue swimmer crabs is 11.5cm carapace width, and females are not allowed to be taken and must be thrown back. To tell the difference between males and females, the best way is to look under their abdomen (or underside). There is a visible ‘flap’ on their underside, which is thin in males and wide in females. Please also be responsible with your crab pots, as they are responsible for the death of many turtles that get stuck trying to eat the animals inside. Always check crab pots regularly and never discard of old crab pots into the ocean. These two photos were taken underneath the Tangalooma Jetty.”

Posted by Ben
Thursday, 12 September 2013
Feather fin bullfish

“Feather fin bullfish (Heniochus acumineatus)

 

The feather fin bullfish is a common reef fish distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific. They are found singly or in pairs in many reef environments, from shallow lagoons to deep reef slopes from 2 – 75m deep. Growing to 25cm in length, feather fin bullfish are distinguished by their black and white banded body and elongated dorsal fin.

 

The feather fin bullfish belongs to a family of fish known as the butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae). The fish in this family all have fine, hair-like teeth that allow them to eat small, inaccessible marine animals that many other fish can not. These fish use their teeth to pull small animals out of burrows, such as Christmas tree and featherduster worms. They can even eat tiny coral polyps using their specialised teeth. However, this is not the only way the feather fin bullfish feeds; they also feed on small zooplankton, and parasites off the backs of larger marine animals, such as turtles, large fish and marine mammals. As the feather fin bullfish eats many different sources of food, it is known as a generalist feeder. This is advantageous as they can adapt to the different sources of food available, and may explain as to why they are abundant within their range. These two photos were taken at the graveyard dive site out the front of Tangalooma.”

Posted by Ben
Monday, 5 August 2013
The Yellow Boxfish

“Yellow boxfish (Ostracion cubicus)

The yellow boxfish can be found in tropical and temperate regions throughout the Indo-Pacific oceans, usually associated with lagoons, and coral/rocky reefs from depths of 1m to 40m deep. These fish are boxed shaped, and grow to 45cm in length. As juveniles, they are bright yellow with bluish black spots over their body, but as they mature the yellow fades to a duller yellow (almost brown) colouration.

The yellow boxfish feeds on algae and a variety of marine invertebrates, including sponges, polychaete worms, molluscs and crustaceans. These fish produce a toxin in their skin called ostracitoxin, which acts as a deterrent to predators. Due to this, these fish should never be eaten. When stressed or sick, these fish may also release this toxin into the water, and when kept in aquariums, they have been known to kill all the other fish in the same aquarium after releasing this toxin. These two photos were taken beneath the Tangalooma jetty, and are of mature individuals.”

Eco Ranger Pat

Posted by Ben
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Starry Pufferfish

Starry Pufferfish (Arothron stellatus)

Starry Pufferfish at the Tangalooma wrecks

The Starry pufferfish belongs to the family Tetraodontidae, which includes all species of toadfish and pufferfish. These fish are unique in that they are able to inflate themselves with water to approximately twice their normal size, which serves as a defence. By making themselves look larger, they are able to deter some predators. Starry pufferfish are found throughout tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific. In Australia, they are found along the north coast from central Western Australia to central New South Wales, often associated with coastal reefs and inshore estuaries. 

Growing up to 1.2m in length, Starry pufferfish are one of the largest species of pufferfish. Adults are white in colour and their body is covered with small black spots, which become smaller and more numerous as they mature. Juveniles on the other hand are orange with small black spots on their body as well as diagonal black bands on their abdomen.

Starry Pufferfish at the Tangalooma wrecks again

The Starry pufferfish has a beak like jaw, which is very powerful and able to crack open shells and other hard objects. This suits their diet as they eat things such as sponges, corals, crustaceans, molluscs, tube worms and sea urchins. Like all species of pufferfish and toadfish, they contain powerful toxins (tetrodotoxin) in their skin and organs, and should never be eaten. These photos were both taken at the Graveyard dive site out the front of Tangalooma.

Cheers,

Pat

Posted by Chad
Friday, 12 July 2013
The two calves have grown up!

Wow how time goes by so quickly these days , our 2 little dolphin calves Luna and Cruze,   are growing up just so quickly!! 

Luna, Tinkerbell’s calf is now over a year old, and has showed us all that he is definitely  a male dolphin.  Luna is becoming a very independent and cheeky  little  dolphin  as he is  starting to try and take fish from Tinkerbell during the feed. Of course Tink is not so keen on the idea and as Luna is still suckling from his mother, we will not give him any fish until he is at least 2 years of age when he will be starting to hunt and catch his own food,  and will not be dependent on Tinkerbell so much. 

Now we’re still unsure as to whether or not   Tangle’s Calf Cruze is a male or female.  Unlike Luna, “he just let it all hang out’ at around 4 months of age, we just have to wait and see with Cruze.  Cruze is only 8 months old now, so we may find out very soon.  Cruze appears to have a very gentle  personality  just like  his mum Tangles, and is  very interactive and playful with Luna. 

As both Cruze and Luna are developing their echolocation and hunting techniques, they love to find a “Common Pufferfish” hiding in the sand in the dolphin feed area.  They will then start to torment the pufferfish until its blows itself up so it looks like a ping pong ball and then the dolphins will start throwing it to each other.  Sometimes Nari, Sil and Storm like to join in on the game as well.  Once the dolphins get bored of the game they will let the little puffer fish go, the puffer fish will think that its free and will try and swim off , but then  its just game on again  for the dolphins as they start to chase  it around the feed area again. 

Not to worry though, the puffer fish do not seem to be physically harmed by the experience and are always left to swim away after the dolphins have left the feed area. 

Eco Ranger Sue

Posted by Chad
Thursday, 11 July 2013
The Green Sea Turtle

Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) 

Green Sea Turtle at the Tangalooma Wrecks

The green sea turtle is an herbivorous marine reptile, found throughout tropical and subtropical oceans around the world. This turtle gets its name not from the outside appearance but instead from the colour of its inner fat stores, which are stained green from their diet of mostly seagrass and algae. They can grow up to 1.5m in length and weigh up to 200kg. 

Green sea turtles come up onto the beach to lay eggs, and can lay up to 150 eggs per clutch and may lay up to 8 or 9 clutches per season. After 5 to 7 weeks, the eggs will hatch and the hatchlings will swim into the open ocean for 3-5 years before settling into a feeding ground. They will only leave this area to breed and nest, and will nest in the same area (sometimes on the same beach) as they were born. Little is known about how sea turtle navigate, but it has been suggested that they may be able to orient themselves using the earth’s magnetic field.  

Green Sea Turtle at the Tangalooma Qrecks

Unfortunately, sea turtles are highly threatened by human activities such as hunting, boat strikes, entanglement in fishing gear and pollution. One big problem towards sea turtles is the plastic bag, which looks similar to a jellyfish in the water and sea turtles will often ingest plastic bags confusing them for jellyfish. This causes blockages in the turtles’ intestines, leading to starvation and death. In Moreton Bay alone, 40% of the sea turtles that wash up dead have plastic in their stomachs. Please help out our sea turtles, try to say no to plastic bags and use reusable shopping bags instead. Also pick up rubbish wherever you see it, because every bit you pick up could save a turtles life! These photos were both taken at the Tangalooma shipwrecks, where we frequently encounter green sea turtles.” 

Eco Ranger Pat

Posted by Chad
Thursday, 5 July 2012
The bay welcomes a new dolphin family member

Tangalooma welcomes a new member to their dolphin family.

Tangalooma is proud to announce the arrival of their newest member to the dolphin family. One of the resident dolphins, Tinkerbell has given birth to a new calf. The new beauty is only a couple of weeks old, and around 80cm long. This is the 22 year olds fourth calf.

When dolphins give birth to a calf, they are very protective. Often lingering out the back of Tangalooma’s dolphin feeding sessions, mothers tend to steer their newborn calves away from not only humans, but other dolphins. Yet, lucky for Tangalooma’s guests, Tinkerbell has shown great trust and confidence in bringing her new calf into the dolphin feeding sessions.

The new calf is yet to be named. Tangalooma will be hosting a ‘baby naming competition’ on facebook to not only celebrate the dolphin’s arrival to Tangalooma, but to find a name for their little treasure. The winner of the competition will embark on a VIP Tangalooma experience for four, with 5 runners up enjoying one of the amazing whale watch cruises and one lucky voter enjoying a weekend away at Tangalooma.

There is no better time to come and visit Tangalooma Island Resort, situated on Moreton Island, only 75 minutes from Brisbane. So jump on one of the ferry’s and come and visit the gorgeous baby dolphin calf.

While you are over there, don’t miss out on the array of tours and activities available at Tangalooma. Whether you are an island explorer, nature lover or adrenaline junkie, Tangalooma has something to suit you. With over 80 tours and activities available, the hardest decision you will make is which one to try first.

So get over to Tangalooma Island Resort and say hello to their new little member.

Posted by Alex
Monday, 18 April 2011
Welcome Home Tinkerbell!!!

Last night Tinkerbell returned to Tangalooma after being absent since the January Queensland flood disaster.  It was a very exciting and emotional return for Tinkerbell as we had not seen her in such a long time and naturally we had concern for her safety and well being.

Tink entered the feed area at 6.05pm from the north west and she didn't have any apparent marks or injuries and seemed to be in good health.  When Tinkerbell did enter the feed area, she swam straight over to her first born calf,Tangles.

SadlyTinkerbell's two and a half year old calf Phoenix was not with her.  We are hoping that she may be with the juveniles and will hopefully come in with them over the next few weeks.

We are extremely happy to see Tinkerbell and are hopeful in looking forward to seeing the other dolphins return over the next few weeks or months.


Posted by
Thursday, 14 April 2011
Lastest Dolphin Research - Moreton Bay

Lastest studies by University of Queensland Marine Scientist and Moreton Bay Dolphin Researcher, Ina Ansmann indicate that the bottlenose dolphins in Moreton Bay have been adapting their social lives to changing levels of trawl fisheries.   In the late  1990s when prawn trawling was occurring at much higher levels than today, dolphins in the Southern bay were split into two social communities, ones that followed prawn trawelers to feed on discarded by-catch ("Trawler Dolphins") and those that did not interact with trawlers ("Non-Trawler Dolphins").  Members of the two communities were never associating.  Afer the introduction of important fisheries legislation such as the Trawl Management Plan of 1999 and the Moreton Bay Marine Park Zoning Plan of 1997 (which has recently been reviewed again), prawn trawling in Moreton Bay has been reduced by almost 50% and much of the Southern bay is now protected areas.  Since this reduction in trawling pressure, the dolphins of Southern Moreton Bay have returned to a more "natural" social system of one large compact network (rather than separate communities) with more and stronger associations between individuals. Former Trawler and Non-Trawler dolphins are now associating with each other.  This more highly connected social network may help the animals cooperate or learn from each other and make them more efficient at foraging naturally rather than depending on an artificial food source such as trawler by-catch.

Ina is a Marine Biologist and PhD candiate at the University of Queensland and has undertaken dolphin research around the world for the last 10 years.  Ina has only just recently won an award at the Eurpoean Cetacean Society Conference in Spain for her presentation of her outstanding research on the social structure of Moreton Bay dolphins.

Tangalooma is very proud to have Ina as a casual member of the Tangalooma Marine Education and Conservation Centre and the continued support of Ina and scientists like her is a key factor in the continued conservation and monitoring of Moreotn Bay region.

 

 Ina collecting data in Moreton Bay

Posted by
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
Farewell Tangle's Beautiful Baby Calf
Sadly today we can confirm that Tangle's calf is no longer with us.  At 2.30pm this afternoon, 300 metres off Tangalooma,  Tangles was spotted being herded (mating)  with one of  our male dolphins -  Echo.  There was no calf in sight.

Tangle's calf was last seen at the dolphin feed on Saturday 15th January , although Tangles has been coming in without her calf since then, we could not confirm that the calf was no longer with us until now.

Unfortunately first time mothers only have a 50% chance of their first born calf surviving the first year.   Mother dolphins have also been known to grieve for weeks and have been known to stay very close to the area where their calf has died.

The good news is that as Tangles was being herded by the males, it means that Tangles is likely to have a new baby calf in about 12 months time.  It is quite common for female dolphins who lose their calf in the warmer months to become pregnant again within a few weeks of their calf dying.

We will sadly miss our "little one" who was highly  spirited and a delight to see swimming around.    We will never forget Tangles first baby calf, who was an important part of our dolphin family.

 

 

Tangle's beautiful baby calf - It will be sadly missed

Tangles being herded by Echo

Photo:  Ina  Ansman - Marine Scientist

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Tuesday, 1 February 2011
Where are all the dolphins????

Over the last few weeks we have only had a few of the regular dolphins coming into the feed. 

 There are several factors as to why the dolphins are not coming in at the moment, although currently we can see anywhere between 20-30 groups or pods of dolphins swimming past the resort throughout the day.

This is also the time of year when we have a lot of schools of fish going through the bay with fish chops happening almost every hour which is quite spectacular to watch. 

We are looking forward to seeing those dolphins again as we are missing them very much.

 Dolphins in front of Tangalooma.

Photo:  Ina Ansmann - Marine Scientist

 

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