Earthwatch International

Greatest Species Discovery in Western Australia in 10 Years


Source: Earthwatch International

Bush Blitz is Australia’s largest nature discovery project, documenting plants and animals throughout the continent. In its fourth year, Bush Blitz has already discovered a new genus of a racing stripe spider, a possible new species of rainbow fish, a wolf spider, and the first new record of butterfly in Western Australia in a decade.

Bush Blitz is a partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities and Earthwatch Australia. The innovative program sends scientists accompanied by teachers and BHP Billiton employees out into the field to record fascinating plants and animals in conservation areas across Australia. This team scours the bush, waterways and even goes underground in the quest to identify and record discoveries.

Bush Blitz started the year in Tasmania and discovered 5 new ‘true bug’ species and a new genus of racing stripe spider. The team of 29 scientists, project staff and BHP Billiton employees, spent ten intensive days in February researching the plant and animal species of this unique corner of Australia.

Most recently, the program returned in June from the wilds of the Kimberley in Western Australia, where five teachers joined Bush Blitz from schools across the country, as part of Bush Blitz TeachLive. This is the second time Earthwatch involved teachers in a Bush Blitz expedition, with more to come through Buh Blitz TeachLive expeditions in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Cassandra Nichols, Director of Programs for Earthwatch Australia felt the program was an outstanding success. “The excitement of the teachers has been inconceivable, and they’re passing that enthusiasm for nature straight back to their students, through blogs, communication forums and Skype.”

Four new species discovered in the Kimberley
The Kimberley team documented a possible new species of rainbow fish, a wolf spider that thinks it’s a water spider, a pseudoscorpion and a butterfly – that is the first new record of a butterfly in Western Australia in 10 years.

These new discoveries will add to the currently known 560,000 native Australian plant and animal species, many of which are not found anywhere else on earth. However it is believed only one-quarter of them has been scientifically documented.

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