St Bees Island Research Activity

St Bees Island – Research Activity

Year 9 Environmental Studies

As part of the EarthWatch TeachLive research program Australia’s Changing Islands we will conducting environmental research on St Bees Island.

You will be able to find fieldwork updates (and new questions to answer) from St Bees Island on my blog so be sure to check in every lesson.


  1. 1. Create a new Google Doc titled St Bees Island Research and share with me.
  1. 2. Use Google Maps to locate St Bees Island. Save 2 maps of St Bees Island (one map view AND one satellite view) onto your Google Doc. If you use Google Drawing for this it is easier to add labels and arrows to your map
  1. 3. Give the latitude and longitude for St Bees Island.
  1. 4. Label the following locations on your saved maps (you will find the locations if you zoom in on Google Maps): Schooner Rock, Vincent Bay, Palm Bay, Lonely Bay, Joseph Bay, Cattle Bay, Aspatria Island, Wool Bay, Flimby Shoal and Goat Bay.

Read the extract below about St Bees Island and answer questions 5-8

St Bee’s Island, off the coast of Queensland, is a tropical paradise rich in biodiversity including a small population of introduced koalas, wallabies, reptiles, birds, and many native plants.It is one of a cluster of continental islands that make up the South Cumberland Islands National Park. These islands are within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

 A rugged and rocky island, St Bee’s 
is located 60km to the north-east of Mackay. It’s hills and ranges support a complex mix of eucalypt woodland and grasslands dissected by deep gullies containing remnants of dry rainforest.

 The land and seascapes appear 
idyllic, but looks can be deceiving. Environmental changes that can be seen on St Bees Island are occurring throughout the region and across many of the topical woodlands and forests of northern Australia. Communities of both plant and animal species on the island are shifting due to climate change and some species are in rapid decline.

 This project aims to address the critical management needs for the island by developing indicators that allow changes in the habitat to be recognised and monitored. By better understanding the changes taking place on the island and the threats to flora and fauna, it is possible to trial techniques and test options for long term conservation and management of this tropical paradise. The information gathered will also contribute to building a broader environmental knowledge of Australia’s fragile ecosystems.

  1. 5. Name the National Park that St Bees Island is located in.
  2. 6. Name some of the animal species that can be found on St Bees Island.
  3. 7. Which major environmental issue is causing shifting and decline in species on St Bees Island.
  4. 8. Why is it important to ‘better understand the changes taking place on the island’?

Research the St Bees Island koalas and answer questions 9-11. You can find lots of information in this article in Australian Geographic. You can also watch the an ABC news video about the St Bees Island koalas.

  1. 9. When were the koalas introduced to St Bees Island and where did they come from?
  2.  10. Why are the St Bees koalas such a useful population for scientists to study?
  3.  11. What factors are leading to a decline in the koala population on St Bees Island?

Climate change is an enormous threat to the unique environment on St Bees Island and other surrounding islands. Research the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef and answer questions 12-13

  1.  12. Create a collage of images showing the impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
  2.  13. From the images you have collected, create a mindmap outlining the different ways the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is being impacted by climate change.


St Bees Island – Research Activity Update

Year 9 Environmental Studies

Remember to check the blog for updates.

On the blog you will see that one of the biggest environmental issues on St Bees Island is lantana – exactly as we have recorded at school along Newports Creek.


  1. 1. Find out the botanical name of lantana. Which country does lantana originate from?

  1. 2. The research on St Bees Island is looking at different management strategies for lantana. Research lantana management and describe some of the methods currently used to manage lantana. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each management strategy – you can do this as a table or dot points.

Another threat to St Bees Island is natural disaster. Recently the island suffered the ravages of Tropical Cyclone Debbie.Watch the ABC News video about Cyclone Debbie and research Cyclone Debbie on the internet.

  1. 3. Give a brief outline of the impact Cyclone Debbie on northern Queensland. See if you can create a timeline of the events and impacts of Cyclone Debbie. Include lots of relevant images from the cyclone.
  2. 4.What kind of impacts do you think the natural environment on St Bees Island would have experienced from Cyclone Debbie.

The fieldwork on St Bees Island has been using a number of scientific instruments.

  1. 5. Find out the uses of the following instruments and find an image of each instrument; densiometer, clinometer, Munsell Colour Chart, foliage projecting cover siting tube.

You will see from the blog post photos of the impressive nesting mounds created by the Orange Footed Scrub Fowl. Research this bird and answer question 6 -7.

  1. 6. Find an image of the Orange Footed Scrub Fowl and save to your Google Doc.
  2. 7. Find out information about the habitat, nesting and breeding cycle of the Orange Footed Scrub Fowl.

Mangroves are a very important part of the ecosystem on St Bees Island (just like they are back home on Newports Creek). Research mangroves and answer question 8

  1. 8. Why are mangroves so important? What are the threats to mangrove ecosystems?