We’re not chasing Pokemon

At first glance, it might look like a group of people congregating to catch Pokemon, but they are actually in search of something a little more real.

Gippsland Lakes Coordinating Committee co-chair, Peter Veenker, and his committee colleagues are using the Museum Victoria and Parks Victoria app Wildlife Field Guide to the Gippsland Lakes at Sale Common on the fringe of the Gippsland Lakes Ramsar listed wetlands.

“The app is designed to allow visitors to and residents of the Gippsland Lakes and surrounds to be able to identify popular and interesting species they see when they’re out and about,” explained Dr Veenker.

“We’re testing it out at these wetlands to see what we can see, and identify, using the app.

“With the recent rain the wetlands are very active. There are lots of birds and you can hear the frogs.”

The new digital app was developed after the ‘Gippsland Lakes Bioscan’, a series of wildlife surveys and public engagement events run in 2014 and 2015. The program was funded through the Victorian Government.

The guide’s content is downloaded onto your mobile device so the app doesn’t need phone reception to function. The field guide app is now available in iOS format for iPhones and iPads and will be available in Android format later this year.

“There are more than 250 species featured on the app, but this is just a portion of the species that call the Gippsland Lakes home,” continued Dr Veenker.

“This shows the amazing biodiversity of the Gippsland Lakes and its surrounds and we hope the app helps demonstrate how important the natural environment is.

“We know that the Gippsland Lakes are a great place to live and visit but there are many other species that call the Gippsland Lakes home and their environment is extremely fragile.

“We’re all custodians for the Gippsland Lakes and we all have a role to play in ensuring they are there for future generations to enjoy.”

App highlights include:

  • Frog calls for 16 frog species, including the eerie call of the Giant Burrowing Frog.
  • Information on more than 80 bird species, including the beautiful Rainbow Bee-eater.
  • 25 fish species from tiny gobies to the Longfin Eel that gets over 1.5 m long.
  • 22 reptile species including the Eastern Water Dragon that swims in the rivers and the Eastern Small-eyed Snake that hunts skinks amongst the boulders.
  • A range of mammals from the region, including the only microbat that we can hear, the White-striped Freetail Bat, and Australia’s largest gliding possum, the Greater Glider (>1 m long).
  • The insects covered include the beautiful Imperial Jezebel butterfly, big camouflaged stick insects and the walk-on-water Water Striders.
  • For the cool rainforests, the guide can help you identify the giant Kershaw’s Panda Snail or the Golden Stag Beetle.
  • For beachcombers, you can identify that strange horseshoe-shaped jelly that often washes ashore – it is the egg mass of the secretive Moon Snail.

To download this app and other free apps on Victoria’s rich wildlife, see the Museum Victoria website.

You can download the app in iTunes.

Photo caption: Wellington Shire Councillor Carolyn Crossley, East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) Chair Dr Peter Veenker and EGCMA staff Sharon Williams and Craig Parker test out the new Gippsland Lakes wildlife app.