Platypuses and seahorses
Thursday 4th February 2016
We had stayed at the Beauty Point Campsite instead of a free site because we were now in need of a dump station to empty the chemical loo, and a drain to empty our waste water, as well as a tap to top up our fresh water tank. We had assumed that a commercial campsite would have all the facilities needed. Wrong. Dump stations, it seemed, were a matter for the local council, and as such are often to be found in public places rather than privately owned campsites.
Now, that is an excellent idea as it makes them available to everyone free of charge, which is to be applauded. However, that did not help our present situation, as the nearest one was 10km back the way we had just come in Beaconsfield. No problem, said the nice lady. The waste and fresh water can be dealt with here, use our bathroom facilities tonight, then go to the dump station in the morning. Problem solved, and lesson learnt.
This morning we were up and on the road soon after nine, as we planned to join the 0930 tour of the Seahorse farm. This was a very interesting tour, where we saw a variety of types of adult seahorses and were shown new-born to adolescent seahorses in large tanks where they were being farmed. We heard about their mating and care of the young in the wild. It seems that the numbers of seahorses in the wild have fallen in recent years as a result of harvesting and of habitat destruction. Seahorse World run an approved seahorse farm and are licensed to practise captive breeding and to export live seahorses all over the world.
Hippocampus addominalis – the Pot Bellied Seahorse. Ahhhhh.
These seahorses were just a couple of days old.
There was a range of different types of seahorse – some could change colour to match their environment.
Not a seahorse, a Weedy Seadragon. If you behaved, you were allowed to briefly hold a seahorse.
If you didn’t, you were made to hold a sea urchin!
We found the visit fascinating and really enjoyed seeing the seahorses close up. We have been lucky enough to see them occasionally in the wild, but they are very shy creatures and don’t hang around long enough to allow a good look.
Next on the agenda was the visit to the Platypus House which was just next door. First we were shown an excellent video of a platypus in the wild that was tracked to find the location of its burrow. A camera was then inserted into the burrow so that we could see an egg hatching and then follow the development of the young platypus until it was ready to leave its mother and begin an independent life.
We were then taken to the platypus ponds where we saw three females, and a male who was kept separate. It seems that they had not yet had any success in breeding the platypus as their first male proved to be too old to mate, and they then had to wait for it to die before they could replace it with a younger one. That had happened just recently, but the new male is not quite old enough, so they have to wait longer. Eventually they hope to be able to put a breeding programme in place.
We were delighted to get these views of the platypus, as although we had seen some in the wild, we had only seen the bits of them visible on the surface, and that at a distance. So it was wonderful to watch them through the glass. We shot some video clips of them too, but as yet the technology of the blog does not support video.
Last of all we went into the echidna garden, where we had strict instructions not to touch the animals and not to get closer than a metre, to avoid them becoming tame. Admirable plan, but they forgot to tell the echidnas.
The echidnas were definitely not shy or reticent about human contact when food was on offer.
They have an amazingly long tongue that whips out of their long mouths and scoops up their food.
Both Seahorse World and the Platypus House were well worth the visit. It is a shame to see wild animals in captivity, but if they are threatened in their natural habitat, it is a way to make sure they don’t become extinct.