Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Funky fungus!

I found an amazing looking bright red fungus growing outside my workplace this morning, its like nothing I've ever seen before.  I thought it was a curious plastic ball someone had left on the ground, that is how odd it looks.  It has an incredible lattice structure.  It didn't take me long to find a name for it as its so distinctive: Clathrus ruber, commonly known as the latticed stinkhorn, the basket stinkhorn, or the red cage fungus.  I didn't notice it smelling, but apparently it can have quite a pungent smell.  It is not native to Australia, but in fact quite widespread across the globe, remarkable.
Original photo taken on my phone in poor light when I first spotted the fungus - not a great shot, but you can see how much more upright and rounded the fungus was when it first appeared in the rain!

Saturday, 2 February 2013


Could this be one of Brisbane's best kept secrets?

Moreton bay is home to two very beautiful and famous islands: Stradbroke Island, which I blogged about last August, and Moreton Island, which I'm yet to visit.  Tourists flock to these islands by the boatload.   However, closer to the mainland are many little islands.  I first discovered these in a kayak with the UQ canoe club, where I spent a wonderful day paddling around the bay from Victoria Point to Karragarra Island, coming back though the Secret Garden (a forest of mangroves).  Our 20km route map is shown below.  I didn't take a camera on that trip as kayaking is a new hobby for me, so the likelihood of capsizing seemed quite high - particularly when a Dugong swam under my kayak; though I was simply thrilled to get so close to such a fantastic animal.

The peacefulness of being out on the bay in a sea kayak was bliss.  We spontaneously decided to get out there again late one balmy afternoon with some friends - this time taking the very short hop on the ferry across to Coochiemudlo Island, situated only about 1km from the mainland but a world away.  For $3.50 each way, we had a sunset walk on a  beach to ourselves, besides a couple of kids in a kayak and a family having a picnic.  We even had the novelty of watching the sunset reflected in the ocean, generally not seen from land on the east coast!

The modest little ferry from the mainland to 'Coochie', as the island is affectionately known.

The previous day's king tide had washed up some interesting creatures, like this starfish and jellyfish.  I tried to rescue the starfish, but I think it was too late.  I think this Jellyfish is just a 'blubber' or catostylus jellyfish, not particularly dangerous.

This amazing pattern of little balls we found on the sand is made by sand bubbler crabs, Scopimera inflata.  "These crabs live in burrows in the sand, where they remain during high tide. When the tide is out, they emerge on to the surface of the sand, and scour the sand for food, forming it into inflated pellets, which cover the sand. The crabs work radially from the entrance to their burrow, which they re-enter as the tide rises and destroys the pellets" (Wikipedia).  I came across this lovely YouTube film of the crabs doing just that, creating a work of art!