26 September 2023

Taste of conservation work for Cooktown students

| Sarah Martin
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The girls, with Melsonby Ranger Larry Banning, weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, collecting duck poo samples to check for avian diseases.

Two Cooktown girls got a close up look at the project which saved Rinyirru National Park as part of work experience with South Cape York Catchments Group.

Cooktown State School Year 10 students Coral Thompson and Kenisha Dawes helped inspect a remote site at the headwaters of Rinyirru National Park for one of the world’s worst aquatic weeds, salvinia.

“It was really exciting that we found no salvinia, we were absolutely cheering,” SCYC CEO Jason Carroll said.

“It’s a project we’ve been doing for more than six years with a whole bunch of partners on a private property, we removed 58 tonnes of salvinia over about four years.”

Kenisha and Coral setting up sensor cameras with the Melsonby Rangers.

As well as keeping an eye peeled for invasive weeds, the pair got down and dirty checking duck poo with the Melsonby Rangers as part of biosecurity monitoring.

“Those get sent off and analysed for any nasty avian diseases that might be coming into Australia,” Mr Carroll said.

“While they were out there they also set up some feral pig traps and sensor cameras.”

The pair were kept busy with a marine debris clean up at Walker Bay, followed by sorting and categorising the scraps to enter into the Australian Marine Debris database.

They also got involved in community work, helping out with vegetation management at Cooktown’s old railway park along Adelaide Street, and even found time to give the work vehicles a wash.

Sorting debris found at Walker Bay and entering it into the Austalian Marine Debris Database was all part of a day’s work for the students.

“I was really super happy with how they went, they were really motivated, worked so hard and did everything I asked,” Mr Carroll said.

“Every year we take work experience students – it’s a great opportunity to develop a bit of local interest in the field.”

Kenisha said she enjoyed the whole week of work experience and learning about South Cape York Catchments role in the region, while Coral loved the beach clean up at Walker Bay.

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