One of the key joys of spending time at the beach are the encounters we have with the creatures who live there. In the water we see all kinds of fish and rays and jellyfish and sharks and dolphins, but on the sand there are tiny crabs, worms, pippies and more to be found, along with the many, many birds who live on the shore. The gulls, pelicans, eagles, and kites are easy to spot as they wheel and dive above the water, or stand on the wet sand, running away from the incoming tide. But until recently, I’d not paid so much attention to the shy, little shorebirds that live and nest in the dunes and so I’d also not though much about how my use of beaches might impact them. It might seem that surfing and swimming has little impact on them – I spend enough time in the sun, so I’m also not much for sunbathing – but getting to the water still requires crossing the sandy shore and so we might not notice how we encounter shorebirds.
Recently, I was made aware of the impacts that our sport, recreation and leisure can have on the health and wellbeing of shorebirds as I listened to Dr Eric Woehler OAM speak at the Australian Coastal Society conference, Coast to Coast, which was held in Cairns in July. It got me wondering about how our beach walking and dogs and sunbathing and 4WD-ing and drones and more all impact shorebirds, and what we can do to minimise these.
Dr Eric Woehler; nest monitoring in action
I spoke with Eric for an upcoming episode of Saltwater Library, a conversation we have published, in part, on Surfline. You can read our interview about how we can minimise the impacts of beach-based sport, recreation and leisure on the lives of shorebirds here.
Thank you, Surfline!