LOCALS MONTH, NAIDOC WEEK & PHASE TWO IS COMING!!!!!
We hope you have all been happy and well since our last newsletter. It has been a busy few months for Irukandji and we can’t believe the year has flown by and it’s August already!
The last few months have seen lots of school groups coming through Irukandji. Education is so important to us and it’s been great to see so many young people learning about our amazing animals and our conservation message. We’ve had a lot of students visit who are studying Marine Science for their HSC. Most of these students have done our Tropical Snorkel and have been so excited to get up close and personal with our animals in the deeper part of the lagoon. What a fun thing to do on a school excursion!! We also ran 3 Mini Marine Biologist days over the recent school holidays. You can see photos from this exciting all day kids program on our Facebook page. Dates for the next holiday programs will be released soon. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page.
The June Long Weekend brought big crowds again, especially as the weather was so amazing. Sadly the school holidays however, have been heavily impacted by the Covid situation in Sydney. The silver lining to this has been the support from our local community. We’ve had so many people visiting, taking advantage of the smaller crowds and it’s been lovely to have so many local families, as well as quite a few families from western NSW coming in. The first week of the holidays in particular, had amazing weather and lots of people were able to enjoy in-water experiences and really connect with our beautiful animals.
August is LOCALS MONTH!
We have been doing Locals Month for 7 years now. This is where we offer 50% off Entry and a Shallows Encounter for Port Stephens locals. It’s our way of saying thanks for the support locals have shown us for the rest of the year! If you bring a Dine & Discover Voucher then you can visit with even more of a discount!
Further information can be found here: LOCALS MONTH
The NSW Dine and Discover vouchers were extended and then extended again. This continues to be working really well for us and many people are utilising their Discover voucher at Irukandji. You still have up until the end of August to use the vouchers so if you are yet to apply you can do so via the Service NSW website here.
NAIDOC Week 4-11 July 2021
Irukandji is located in Worimi Country. The Worimi have been the custodians of this area and treating this beautiful land with respect and care, long before anybody else. This year the theme for NAIDOC Week was HEAL COUNTRY.
We hold the same values about sustainability and coastal management here at Irukandji and we hope we can all work together to protect our environment and ensure Worimi cultural connections remain for future generations to come.
Jake, one of our staff members, is a Worimi man and we all enjoyed hearing about his totems and the importance of our animals in his culture. See Jake’s story here
Staff and Volunteers
Sadly after 7 years working at Irukandji we say goodbye to Shaz who has been our longest working employee. Shaz started at the old centre, and then got her hands dirty with helping build our new centre. She was integral in getting Sea Shelter started and did our first ever Mini Marine program! We have watched her blossom and grow…….We will really miss her but wish her luck with future endeavours and of course we will still see her volunteering at Sea Shelter.
Connaugh is taking over as our new Volunteer Coordinator. He has been welcomed with open arms by the volunteers that work so hard to help make Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters what it is today. He would like to thank them for their patience during this period of transition. We couldn’t do all the things we need to at Irukandji and Sea Shelter without our amazing volunteers. Thank you for giving up your time to help us and welcome to the Irukandji family to all the new volunteers from our recent Induction Day. We always need more volunteers. If you’d like to join the team you can find more info here: volunteer here
In other staff news, Irukandji would OFFICIALLY like to welcome Caitlin to our team! She started as a volunteer here and in December when we opened up a private position from our volunteers, Caitlin was successful. Her enthusiasm, love and passion for animals was immediately obvious. Rain hail or shine, whether it’s feeding and conditioning our animals, or cleaning the toilets, Caitlin has a big infectious smile on her face. She is a joy to work with and we are glad to have her on our team.
Phase Two is Coming Soon!
As you may know, Irukandji has grand plans to expand over the coming years with seven phases of development in the works. Phase One opened up in July 2020 and it’s been a wonderful success.
The question on everybody’s lips now is “When are we building Phase Two?” Phase Two will see Irukandji double in lagoon size again. All our tropical animals, plus some surprise new species will be housed in our tropical lagoon.
It will be home to Gigantor, our 3.2m Tawny Nurse Shark and you will be able to snorkel with him! Plus it will be an indoor lagoon so you can have fun no matter what the weather is doing!
Our current outdoor lagoon will be transformed into a snorkelling activity for ages 7+ to enjoy. That’s right! Finally the littler kids will get to snorkel as well! Another new activity the kids (and grownups) will love is a Little Ray Cuddle!
Keep your eye out for more news on the development of our amazing facility. We hope to start digging in the next few weeks. The staff are all so excited to be moving forward with this amazing new phase.
Baby Shark do do do do do-do……. A little boy and a little girl baby Brown Banded Bamboo shark have hatched in our nursery recently. There is really nothing cuter than a baby bamboo shark! This photo is of our little girl, who is about 10cm long. ADORABLE!!!! She has been named Margo and our little boy’s name is Gerald. You can see them in our tropical aquarium behind reception.
Also in our tropical tank, Aslan and Pisces our beautiful Scorpion Fish (Lion Fish), are settling into Irukandji life nicely. They are responding really well to interactions with our keepers. Customers love watching them gaze intently at you through the glass and flutter their fins at feeding time.
Shark Awareness Day was July 14th with Shark Week happening at the same time. Check out the video we made below. It’s lovely to see Mungo our Tawny Nurse shark, Greg our Zebra shark and a bunch of our adorable Bamboo, Epaulette and Port Jackson sharks being cute for the camera.
In this footage Shell has managed to capture every single one of our shark species!
Sea Shelter and Irukandji
RETURN and EARN Shark Bucks Beach Cleanup
Irukandji and Sea shelter held a beach cleanup in June on World Ocean Day where Irukandji “paid” for rubbish collected with Shark Bucks. Over 20 dedicated people joined in cleaning up our local beaches. It was impressive and also quite sad, to see how much rubbish they collected. Hundreds of dollars of Shark Backs were paid to anyone who collected rubbish, giving participants some big discounts on activities at Irukandji.
The person who collected the most rubbish on this day was a lovely man named John. He will be invited to be the lucky person to release our beautiful Green Sea Turtle, Krill when we return her to the ocean later in the year when the conditions are right.
We can’t thank everybody enough who came and joined in.
We know many of you already do this, but don’t forget to Take 3 For The Sea whenever you visit our beaches in Port Stephens.
Beryl, Krill and the Freshwater Turtles
Beryl continues to improve every day. She keeps impressing us with how well she is holding herself underwater now. She is more under than not these days which makes all the lovely volunteers who care for her super happy. Her skin is slowly starting to improve. If she continues on this path, once her skin infection is clear, she will be able to go back to the wild, hopefully by the end of the year.
Krill is all but ready to go. We just need to have the right conditions and timing to ensure she has the maximum opportunity to thrive on release. It’s so rewarding to be able to send healthy animals back to their home environment!
Our freshwater turtles are all doing really well and should be returned to their natural homes soon. Sadly one little fellow has a shell that seems to be impossible to repair the cracks and would leave him highly susceptible to infection. It seems unlikely we will be able to get him back where he belongs but we will keep trying! These animals are incredibly tough and recover really well from terrible injuries so fingers crossed.
Sadly there has been a number of sea turtles come to us who we have been unable to save. Time and time again it is thoughtless discarding of fishing line and fishing gear that has harmed these beautiful animals. It is so sad that this continues to be a problem.We are grateful to members of the public who continue to contact and report things to us so we can try to help. If you see any marine animals in distress or injured contact us and we can help. Ph: 4982 2476
Did you know it was Plastic Free July? As part of our commitment to minimise the use of any plastics, as well as to recycle anything and everything possible, we have been doing a weekly drop off of soft plastics to the recycling spot at Woolworths. Currently it’s not possible to recycle soft plastics with household rubbish.Fortunately Woolworths and Coles have both made collection points for soft plastics at the front of their stores. We are so glad they have made this happen and at contribute to removing these plastics from landfill.
Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters and Sea Shelter are located in Worimi Country, a beautiful coastal environment that has been lovingly nurtured for countless generations by the Worimi people. We show our respects to the Elders, past and present and are honoured to share this land with them.