Climate change is affecting rainfall and temperature across Australia, and is consequently triggering changes in the established flowering times, breeding cycles and migration movements and other phenological changes. Essentially ClimateWatch is based on phenology, the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate. Examples include bird nesting, insect hatching, plant flowering and fruit ripening. Many studies have already provided insight into the relationship between climate variables, such as temperature and rainfall, to the timing of these phenophases.

ClimateWatch has selected around 180 indicator species that are likely to be affected by the Climate crisis and we need your help to monitor them.

Also known as the sandy wallaby, Kimberley wallaby, jungle wallaby, grass wallaby and river wallaby.. A medium-sized, light yellowish-brown with a prominent white face stripe leading back from upper lid to under eye and a white thigh stripe. Droppings are pear-shaped and slightly pointed at broader end (25 mm long by 15 mm at broadest end). Size Body length 80 cm; tail length 77 cm; weight 15 kg.
A densely branched shrub with a tea-tree aroma when crushed. Usually grows between 0.5 - 1 m in height. May reach 2 m tall in lower altitudes. Will usually grow along the ground or against rocks. Leaves Usually crowded, oblong, and do not spread very widely. Size approximately 2–4 mm long and 1 mm wide, thick, concavo-convex (concave on both sides) and pointed at ends. Flowers Solitary, white and have circular petals, 8 mm across. Usually appear between December and April.
Low, spreading shrub growing to 15 - 50 cm high and 1 - 1.5 m in diameter. Stems and branches are densely arranged and covered in small hairs. The hairs are white-grey or brown/tan towards the tip of the branchlets. Leaves The leaves are narrow-oblong in shape and between 1 - 3.2 cm long and 3 - 7 mm wide. The bases are round and the edges of the leaf are bent downwards. The upper leaf surfaces are green, nearly glossy, hairless and smooth with obvious veins. The lower leaf surfaces are covered with cream, pale tan or orange-tan hairs that become white or grey with age. The leaf stalks are between 2.5 - 3.7 mm long. Flowers Flowering occurs between October and December. Pea-like flowers have petals that are deep mauve in colour. The flowering parts of the alpine rusty-pods are stalkless and usually 2-flowered. The flower stalks are between 2 - 5 mm long.
Citrus sinensis Aranis trees grow in the tropics and subtropics. It is a recent introduction to many of the Pacific Islands and has become naturalised in Vanuatu. There are four varieties of Aranis in Vanuatu. The tree grows to 12 m and often has spiny stems. It can have multiple flowering periods in the tropics, including year-round. It is a very good source of Vitamin C. Leaves Leaves are 10 cm in length and dark green. The shape is elliptic (a flattened oval) to ovate (egg-shaped), with the margins irregularly crenate (scalloped margin) or crenulate (serrated margin). Flowers Flowers are fragrant, white and 2 to 3 cm in diameter. Fruit Fruits are generally 8 to 10 cm in diameter but can be smaller or larger. The fruit is mildly sweet to sweet. The peel is greenish yellow to bright orange. A thick skin adheres to the flesh of the fruit.
Large deciduous tree with yellow leaves in autumn, around 20 m high. Also known as the Desert Ash. Leaves are comprised of leaflets. Has brown buds in winter. Many flowers in spring and fruit. Leaves 14 - 20cm long, usually 5 - 7 (occasionally 13) leaflets, which are each 5 - 8 cm long and 0.7 - 2 cm wide. Serrated edges with pointed leaf tips. Bright and shiny green on upper side and dark and pale on underside. Flowers Many inconspicuous flowers with no sepals or petals. Red to purple anthers (pollen-bearing part of a flower).
A fawn to grey body with some mottling. It can change its colour from paler at night to darker during the day. Its tail can have a slightly flattened appearance and has small spines arranged in bands. It has bulging eyes with no eyelids. Size Body about 6 cm with tail 10 cm.
The Atlas Moth is a very large, iconic insect with a wingspan of approximately 17cm. It is rusty-brown in colour, with a double white band and a large white spot on each wing. Eggs are white and almost spherical, each laid singly on a leaf. Caterpillars can be white to green, 10cm or longer, with floppy spines.
The Greek "dios" means divine or god-like, and "pyros" means wheat, a reference to the fruit of the gods, as some of the members of the genus have tasty fruit. A small shrub-like tree with a height of 11 m. It also flowers and fruits as a shrub. Very dark, mottled grey to black bark on the trunk/body of the tree. Leaves Thick leathery leaves 7 - 9 cm long.
Black and white, with the pattern varying across its range. The back of its neck, upper tail and shoulders (on its wings) are white in males and grey in females, and (across most of Australia) the rest of its body is black. In south-eastern, central and south-western Australia, including Tasmania, its back and rump are entirely white. Its eye is red-brown. Young birds are usually grey rather than black and have dark eyes. Distinctive feature One toe faces backwards and three face forwards. It has a square-tipped tail.
A medium shorebird with long skinny legs and a long beak. The Oystercatcher has a black head and black with a white belly, orange-red eyes, and very distinctive orange legs and beak. Size 50 cm long (from head to tail)
Grey, grey-brown to olive green body with patches of cream. It has black bands running across its body and tail and a "crest" of spines which start on its head and extend down its back and along its tail. Its belly is creamy-white to creamy brown-grey and the larger, breeding males have a red-orange chest and throat. One of two subspecies also has a broad black stripe running from behind its eye to its ear. It has long, powerful legs and a long, strong tail with flattened sides to assist with swimming. There are loose folds of skin under its jaw. Juveniles are light brown and their head and feet appear large for their body size. Size Around 80 - 90 cm long (nose to end of tail) two-thirds of which is tail. Males are bigger than females.
Musa acuminata Common names: Banana (Gros Michel?) – Local/Bislama names for the varieties: Vetaï tamouté (white man’s banana - Cavendish), Switi, Sweet Tuven, Wan Manis (one month), Franis (French), Mignonette (sweet) Bananas are thought to have been first domesticated in Southeast Asia. They are native to the Indo-Malesian, Asian and the Australian tropics. Bananas are widely distributed and cultivated throughout all Pacific Islands and are a staple food plant. They are a major crop throughout most of Vanuatu. Banana are giant herbs whose underground stem forms a false trunk which is 2-9 m tall at maturity. Bananas can be planted and harvested year-round. Leaves Wide-spreading and long leaves, up to 3.5 m in length and 65 cm in width. They are comprised of a stalk (petiole) and blade. Leaves are arranged in a spiral around the ‘trunk’. They are easily torn by wind. Flowers A vertical inflorescence (flower head) forms a cluster or bunch, that is arranged in a spiral. The axils (upper angle between the leaf stalk/branch and the trunk) has rows of flowers. Bananas have both male and female flowers. Female flowers can turn into fruit and are found closer to the leaves. The male flower is generally purple-red and is usually found below the bunch of fruits. Fruit Fruits grow in large hanging clusters (bunches) near the top of the plant. They are made up 10 to 20 tiers, which are called ‘hands’. Each tier can contain up to 20 fruit. Individual fruit are known as banana or ‘finger’. The fruit has a protective peel with long, thin strings running lengthwise between the peel and the edible inner portion. The end of the fruit has a small darker tip which is the remains of the flower. The fruit ripen to a full yellow colour at ambient equatorial temperatures.
Almost completely black with a rusty-red or chocolate-brown patch at the back of its head and on its neck. Its fur can be tipped with grey, particularly on its belly. It has no fur on its lower legs. Size 23 – 28 cm head and body length, wingspan over 1 m.
A type of marine snail (mollusc) with a distinctive round or globe-shaped shell, black or dark grey in colour. The older snails will sometime have a white patch at the flattened tip (apex) of the spirals (whorls) due to weathering. Nerites have a white aperture (where the snail comes out) with a black rim and they usually have a black operculum (shell door or lid) which is sometimes spotted orange.
Adults have a black body and neck with white wing tips, black legs and a red bill with white bar near tip. Male carries head higher than female in mated pair and has darker bill and iris. Juveniles are lighter in colour and cygnets have grey-brown plumage. Size body length 110 - 140 cm; wingspan 160 - 200 cm
The Black Wattle plays an important role in Australia's ecosystems. As a pioneer plant it quickly binds erosion-prone soil following bushfires. Like other leguminous plants, it fixes the atmospheric nitrogen in the soil. Other woodland species can rapidly use these increased nitrogen levels provided by the nodules of bacteria present in their expansive root systems. Hence they play a critical part in natural regeneration after bushfires. Spreading tree which grows to 5 - 15 m tall. Bark is smooth and of greenish-brown colour on young branches. Blackish and rough on trunk. Distinct yellow flowers in September to December. Leaves Fern-like bipinnate leaves (leaflets that are further subdivided in an arrangement of leaves on either side of the stem). Olive green in colour. Raised glands are present at the junction of and between each pinnae (little leaf). Flowers Pale yellow or sometimes cream coloured ball-shaped inflorescences (clusters of flowers arranged on a stem). Flowering occurs from September through to December. Highly perfumed.
Also known as Blueberry Lily, a long, feathery shrub with flowers sticking up above the leaves. Long green pointy leaves with vibrant blue to purple inflorescences (flower clusters). Grows up to 1.5 m high. Leaves Long, feathery, smooth green leaves. 15 - 85 cm long with 4 - 15 mm width. Pointy ends and long and stiff throughout. Can sometimes appear red towards base but this is rare. Flowers Flowers stick up above the leaves, consisting of 6 purple petals (7 - 12 mm length) and 6 stamens (pollen-bearing part of the flower) in a ring. These are long, thick and have brown to black tips with yellow stems.
Small to large tree with a variable height of 3 - 45 m and has a bole that is approximately 150 cm in diameter. It has deeply fissured, dark-grey to black coloured bark that appears quite scaly on older trees. Leaves Inclined to ascending, narrowly rounded, lance-shaped, straight to slightly curved. 3-5 raised main veins with numerous secondary veins. Flowers Pale yellow/golden to white clusters of 2 - 8 that flowers July – December. In Victoria, it flowers in August - October.
It is likely that by all emerging at the same time of year, cicadas can increase their chances of survival by overwhelming predators with their huge numbers. This means that at least some of the cicadas survive to lay eggs, ensuring the survival of the species. A green, stout body with opaque green, leaf-like wings and pink-brown eyes with two pairs of wings that are strengthened with veins. Its antennae are small and bristle-like. The male has a greatly enlarged hollow bladder. Size Female 3 – 3.5 cm long, Male 4.5 – 5 cm long; Wings 4 – 5 cm long.
Shrub or small tree to 8 m high. Leaves Soft, drooping, mostly 10 – 25 cm long and 2 – 5 cm wide, oblong or lanceolate with woolly white underside. Flowers Yellow or orange flower clusters.
Its pear-shaped float (bottle) is a translucent blue, with a wrinkled top which might be tinged with green or pink. It has a single main tentacle, and many shorter tentacles, all of which are blue and hang from its float. It is not a single animal but rather a colony of four kinds of individuals known as polyps. Each polyp has its own function: one is the float, another captures food, another digests the food, and another is responsible for reproduction. Size Float is 2 – 15 cm long, and tentacles up to 10 m.
It has a blue float made of a flat, circular disc with many gas-filled tubes which keep it afloat. The disc is surrounded by tiny blue tentacles. The Blue Button is, in fact, a colony made up of different types of polyps, including some that are specialised for catching food, defense, or reproduction. Size Its disc is up to 2.5 cm across.
Small marine snails (molluscs), often called Australwinks. They are light blue to grey in colour and have a smooth shell that spirals up to a light brown to reddish-brown sharp tip (apex). Size 10 - 15 mm
Olive brown to black and has irregular pale bands on the body and tail. The head is often lighter in colour and can have orange flecks on the top and sides. There are four subspecies with some variations: Eastern Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa aspera) Similar to western bobtail but with a darker belly, larger body scales and a shorter fatter tail Western Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa rugosa) Similar to eastern and northern but paler belly and longer tail, larger ear and pale irregular bands on the back Rottnest Island Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa konowi) Yellow belly. Northern Bobtail (Tiliqua rugosa palarra) Similar to western bobtail with a smaller ear and usually no pale irregular bands on the back Size Total length 45cm.
Brahminy kites are medium sized birds of prey common in coastal areas. Adults have an unmistakable white head and chest with a chestnut brown coloured body. They have dark coloured eyes and a strongly hooked, yellow beak. The tail is relatively short and can have white tips. Size male 45 cm, female 51 cm with an average wing span of 120 cm
Artocarpus altilis Bredfrut is a widely distributed pantropical species and is cultivated on most Pacific Islands. It prefers to grow in climates with summer rains. Bredfrut has spreading evergreen canopy and generally growing 12-15 m in height, but can reach up over 21 m. The trunk can be large, up to 2 m in diameter. All parts of the tree contain a white milky latex. Vanuatu is an important centre for diversity in breadfruit. Over 30 different cultivars are found in northern Vanuatu, potentially up to 100. Leaves Leaves are alternate, broadly obovate to ovate. The leaf blade is generally smooth, glossy, dark green with green or yellow-green veins and a few to many white to reddish-white hairs on the midrib and veins. The underside of the leaves is light green and matt. Flowers Male flowers appear first and are club-shaped, up to 5 cm in diameter and 45 cm long. Thousands of tiny flowers are attached to a central, spongy core. Female inflorescence is 1500-2000 reduced green flowers attached to a spongy core. The flowers fuse together to form a fleshy edible fruit. Fruit The fruits are variable in shape, size, and surface texture, although they are usually round, oval or oblong and range from 9-20 cm wide and more than 30 cm long. Skin texture varies from smooth to slightly bumpy or spiny. Fruit colour is light green, yellowish-green or yellow when mature. The flesh of the fruit is creamy white or pale yellow and contains none to many seeds, depending on the variety. Seeded varieties are more common in Vanuatu.
Spreading small to medium-sized tree with trunk covered by white, beige and grey thick papery bark. Usually grows to 8 – 15 m high (sometimes 25 m) with a spread of 5–10 m. Leaves Grey-green leaves are egg-shaped. Young growth hairy with long and short, soft hairs. Leaves arranged alternately; flat, leathery, 55 – 120 mm long, 10 – 31 mm wide. Flowers Flowers cream or white bottlebrush-like, arranged in spikes on ends of branches which continue to grow after flowering. Spikes contain 5 to 18 groups of flowers in threes, up to 40 mm in diameter and 20 – 50 mm long. Petals 3 mm long and fall off as flower ages. Stamens (male organ of a flower, consisting of a stalk and a pollen-bearing portion) white, cream-coloured or greenish and arranged in 5 bundles around the flower, 5 - 10 stamens per bundle.
Baby bugs (nymphs) are initially bright green as are the eggs from which they hatch, before turning orange-red with a black dot on their back. An adult is bronzy-black with a broad thick body and a triangular back plate. Its head is small in relation to the rest of its body and it has orange antennae and leg joints. Size Eggs are about 2.5 mm in diameter; adults are about 2.5 cm long.
A very large brown seaweed (algae). It has dark brown leathery, strap-like branches (thallus). It attaches to the substrate by a large disc or conical-shaped holdfast. Usually there is a single leathery frond (stalk) from the holdfast, which divides into long segments or fronds. Its strong holdfast often pulls off pieces of granite during storms which can remain attached to the kelp when washed up on shore.
Hibiscus tiliaceus Burao is found in the tropics and subtropics and is native to Vanuatu. An evergreen tree, it can grow to 3-10 m in height. It has a crooked, tangled and sprawling shape and the canopy is generally wider than its height. The bark is smooth to lightly fissured and grey to light brown in colour. The bark thickens and roughens as the tree ages. Burao can be highly variable in shape and in the leaf and flower colours. Leaves The leaves are 6-22 cm in length and have an ovate (oval or egg shaped) to orbicular shape (spherical or rounded). They can be heart-shaped and are large and wavy. The upper surface of the leaves is bright green and greyish-green and hairy on the underside. Flowers Terminal 3-6 flowered cymes (flower cluster with a central stem where a single terminal flower develops before the others develop off lateral stems) or solitary. Five radiating, obovate (ovate with a narrower end at the base), yellow petals that are 4-6.5 cm long and have a base colour of dark red/maroon. The stamen, or male fertilizing organ of the flower, has a tube that is 2-2.5 cm in length. The flowers are showy, fragile, and short-lived, falling the same day that they open. The flowers fade to pink prior to falling. Fruit The fruits are 1.6 to 2.2 cm in length. The fruit casing is ovoid-ellipsoid in shape and light brown in colour with densely matted grey woolly hairs.  The seeds are brown, 4 x 2 mm in length and width, tuberculate (kidney-shaped, with 5-7 seeds per cell), and hairy.
The Bush Stone-curlew has large yellow eyes and long thin legs. Its colouring is mostly grey-brown above, with bold black and rufous streaks. It has buff and white underparts with black streaks. Young birds are similar in colour, but are generally paler. Distinctive feature A prominent white eyebrow Size 54 – 59 cm; wingspan is 82 – 105 cm
Small semi-pendulous epiphytic orchid. 5 - 15 cm across, stems to 5 cm long. Leaves 3 - 10 thin leathery oblong, sometimes curved, dark green leaves 2 - 11 cm long and 4 - 17 mm wide. Flowers 1 - 4 pendulous sprays of 2 - 17 pale yellowish-green to brown flowers, lip white with yellow tints and purple stripes. Sepals and petals narrowly spoon-shaped, spreading; lip short, 3-lobed, projecting forward, side lobes broad, erect, curved inwards.
The caterpillar (larva) is initially pale yellow with fine hairs, before turning green. It has narrow yellow lines on its body which are sometimes hard to see. The upper side of the butterfly (adult) is white with a black tip on its forewing (front wing) and a black patch on the front edge of its hindwing. A male has one black spot on its forewing, while a female has two black spots. Looking from underneath, the forewing is white with two black spots and the hindwing is yellow. Size Caterpillar about 3.5 cm; Butterfly up to 5 cm wingspan.
Single trunk, palm tree grows up to 15 – 20 m high, 1 m in diameter. Leaves Spread leaves, 6 m long and 50 cm wide (when flattened), short thick and extremely sharp-pointed. Flowers A loose branching cluster of yellowish flowers. The flowers are 2 - 4 cm long with rounder outer segments.
Dense, multi-branched shrub forming extensive colonies, grows to approximately 50 - 100 cm tall. Leaves Leaves are erect and spread outwardly, shape varies from leaf to leaf but they generally are lance-shaped and have sharp points. All leaves are of a similar bright green colour. Flowers Flowers December to February. The flowers of candle heath branch out above the shrub on a red stalk measuring between 10 - 30 cm. Fragrant, greenish-white flowers bloom on the terminal end of the stalk. The flowers are trumpet-shaped and are 4 - 8 mm long and 4 - 5 mm in diameter.
Cane toads have tough, leathery skin with a distinctive warty appearance. Usually grey, brown, reddish-brown or yellow in colour with a pale underbelly. Pronounced bony ridge above nostril and venom-producing gland behind the ear (behind the eye). Juveniles have smooth dark skin with darker blotches and bars. Cane toads sit upright and move in short rapid hops that can help distinguish them from other species. Average-sized adults are 10-15 cm long. Cane Toad tadpoles are shiny black on top and have a plain dark belly with a short thin tail. They are smaller (less than 3.5 cm) and often gather in huge numbers in shallow waters. Cane Toad eggs are laid in long strings of transparent jelly enclosing double trows of black eggs. The spawn tangles in dense masses around water plants.
Large, pale ash-grey goose with a square black tail. Its triangular bill is almost completely covered by a greenish-yellow cere (skin above the bill). Rows of large dark spots in lines across its shoulders and wing coverts. Legs are pink with black feet. In flight it shows dark wingtips. Size Between 75-100 cm. Males are larger than females weighing between 3.5-5.5 kg while females weigh on average 3.5 kg. Their wingspan measures between 150-190 cm.
Dull black cockatoo with pale feather margins; white patch on ear coverts and white panels in long tail, often exposed in flight. The male has a black bill, reddish eye-ring, dull white ear patch, and lesdistinct feather margins. The female has a whitish bill, grey eye-ring, clear-white ear patch, and broader pale margins to breast-feathers. Nest Decayed wood debris in large hollow in eucalypt, from near ground to over 20 m.
Carpet pythons are extremely variable in colour and pattern (often have pale, dark-edged blotches, stripes or cross bands). Seven geographical subspecies are recognised as carpet pythons are extremely diverse in appearance. The Northern Territory form (Morelia spilota variegat) is different from the other subspecies because it is a beige or brown colour with blackish or grey blotches and bright gold, yellow and rust colour forms in regional areas. This subspecies is about 2.5m long on average. They have row of deep pits run along the lower jaw, and small scales present on the top of the head. This species can grow greater than 3 m in length, and although non-venomous, they possess powerful jaws and constricting capability. Size 2 - 4 m length; 15 kg weight.
The Channel-billed Cuckoo is grey all over, with dark scalloping on its back and wing-coverts, a whitish belly and abdomen, and fine dark barring on the lower underbody. Its long tail is pale-grey on top with two central feathers tipped with white, with a black band near the tip; the undertail has black-and-white barring. In flight, its tail and wings give it a cross-shaped silhouette. Its eyes are bright red and there is a bare patch of red skin around the eye and near the base of the bill. Its legs and feet are dark grey. Young birds are mottled buff, brown and grey, have an olive to brown eye and lack the red-colouring around its eye. Distinctive feature Its large, downward-curved beak which is greyish with a paler tip.
Shrub or small pyramidal tree, yellowish green or bronzy. Commonly 8 - 10 m high. Numerous branchlets are hairy and flaky at first then become smooth and straight.The swollen orange to red stalk preceding the small hard fruit is often mistaken as the fruit itself. Leaves Scale-like, triangular, 0.5 mm long and 2 – 3 mm long on new growth. Flowers Yellow-green flowers in short, dense, clusters that are usually 6 mm long. Flowers appear in early spring to autumn (September to May).
The Christmas Spider is known by several other names, most commonly Jewel Spider but also as Six Spined Spider or Spiny Spider. Females have bright yellow and white patterns with a ring of black spines. Melanic females have the same shape but may be completely black. Males have smaller spines and have a yellow, brown, white and black pattern. Six spines protrude from the sides and bottom end of the abdomen. Size Females are larger at 7 mm, males are 4 mm.
This ClimateWatch indicator species is supported by the ClimateWatch in Parks program and Barwon Coast. Bushy shrub/tree that is between 5 - 10 m in height. Bark is smooth initially becoming fissured turning grey to brown. Leaves Reddish angular branches with flat, linear, ash-green, smooth phyllodes (flattened stems that resemble leaves) shooting off. These 'leaves' are 6 – 12 cm long and 3 – 15 mm in width with hooked tips. Flowers Small, pale yellow with spherical heads.
Tree to 25 m high; bark grey-brown, thick, roughly tessellated (mosaic-like). Its smaller branches are striated (striped with parallel longitudinal ridges or lines). Leaves Often whorled (arranged as a ring of leaves), lance-shaped and sometimes broadest in the upper third 4 – 10 cm long and 1 – 3.5 cm wide Coloured differently on the two surfaces: upper surface dark green, dull to shiny; lower surface white and covered with dense intertwined hairs Pointed or having a broad shallow notch at the tip Adult leaves have entire margins while juveniles will have a few short teeth, flat or slightly curved backwards Flowers Flowers mainly January - June. Pale yellow cylindrical spikes forming a bottle-brush shape. Each flower head is 6 – 12 cm long, 5 – 8 cm wide and attracts insects and nectar-eating birds.
A member of the mint family. Rosemary refers to the shape of the plant and not the scent. Large shrub, up to 2 m high and 5 m wide. Leaves Dark green leaves with short hairs on the underside. Up to 2 cm long, narrow and pointed and close to the stem. Dense foliage. Flowers 2 cm across, forming a fan-shape around the stem. White or pale pruple with reddish and yellow spots near the throat. Field Guide Improve your identification skills. Download your Coastal Rosemary field guide here!
Its genus name Leptospermum is from Greek leptos (thin) and sperma (seed), referring to its small seeds; and its species name laevigatum is from Latin laevigatus (smooth), probably referring to the appearance of the plant. Also known as Australian Myrtle and Victorian Tea Tree. A tall, bushy shrub or small tree, with bark that sheds in strips. Grows up to 6 m tall. Leaves Grey-green and obovate (egg-shaped and flat, with the narrow end attached to the stalk). They are 1.5 – 3 cm long and 5 – 8 mm wide. Flowers White and usually in groups of two. The flower heads are usually 1.5 – 2 cm in diameter, and made up of five petals that are 5 – 8 mm long, with many stamens protruding from the centre that are 2 mm long.
The adult male is black with a deep-orange to yellow beak, a narrow orange to yellow ring around its eye, and dark legs. The female is grey-brown, with some streaks or mottling, and its back is darker than its belly. The female also has a paler chin than the male, a dull yellow-brown beak, dark legs, and the ring around her eye is less bright. Young birds are also brown but with lighter underparts and a dark grey or black beak. Size 25 to 28 cm (from head to tail)
The caterpillar (larva) is initially a pale yellow-grey, before turning green with long black hairs along its body. Its head is brown-black with short hairs. The female butterfly (adult) is orange with creamy yellow and dark brown patches towards the tip of its forewings (front wings). The male is less colourful, being brown and orange with no pale patches. It also has an obvious raised vein in the middle of its forewing. Both males and females have a small eye-spot on each wing. The undersides of the wings in both the male and female are paler with faint markings, and their hindwings have very few markings. The female’s hindwing is darker then its forewing. It is difficult to identify these butterflies when they are resting with their wings closed. The males emerge quite a while earlier in the year before the females. Size Caterpillar about 3.5 cm long; Butterfly wingspan 5.5 – 7.5 cm (females are larger than males).
Ground-dwelling froglet with a slender body, slender limbs and slightly pointed head that is wider than long. The pupil is horizontal and the tympanum (eardrum) indistinct. Usually this frog is discernible by its distinctive ‘crick-crick’ call. The Common Froglet has extremely variable markings, with great variety usually found within confined populations. The colour varies from dark brown, fawn, light and dark grey. The colour of the ventral surface is similar to the dorsal surface, but speckled with white spots. The dorsal surface may be smooth, warty or have longitudinal skin folds.
Lorea is Latin for 'made of thongs' or 'long strips of leather'; referring to the long terete leaves of this species. Also known as the Bootlace Oak. Small tree with distinctively deeply fissured, corky and rough bark. It can grow to about 6 m tall. Leaves Shiny, dark green needle like leaves are up to 40 cm long. Flowers Each bright orange to dull lemon-coloured flower is about 1.5 cm long but is grouped into a spectacular raceme up to 12 cm long.
Tuberous, perennial herb which grows from underground stems. 5 - 30 cm high. Leaves It has a broad, hairy basal leaf up to 25 cm long. Flowers The 30 - 40 mm diameter flowers are often solitary but up to four flowers may be borne on a slender stem about 30 cm high. It is a very distinctive species because of its bright yellow flowers which often have crimson spots. Field Guide Improve your identification skills. Download your Cowslip Orchid field guide here!
Black and white, with the pattern varying across its range. The back of its neck, upper tail and shoulders (on its wings) are white in males and grey in females, and (across most of Australia) the rest of its body is black. In south-eastern, central and south-western Australia, including Tasmania, its back and rump are entirely white. Its eye is red-brown. Young birds are usually grey rather than black and have dark eyes. Distinctive feature One toe faces backwards and three face forwards. It has a square-tipped tail.
A type of sea squirt, an animal that forms large colonies as a dense mat over rocks which are highly visible at low tide. Its shape is squat and globular. It has a thick leathery outer layer called a ‘tunic’ which is often covered with brown or green algae. Cylindrical in shape with 2 openings called siphons for inhaling and exhaling water and feeding.
The caterpillar (larva) is initially dark in colour with broad yellow-orange bands running across its body, and two rows of black spines running down its back. Its head is black and smooth. As it matures its body becomes blue-black. Just before becoming a pupa it turns dark green with orange-yellow blotches on its back and some small scattered pale blue-and-white spots. The butterfly (adult) has black wings covered with white-grey patches, and red-and-blue patches on its hindwing. The back edge of its hindwing is scalloped and the tip of its body is yellow. Size Caterpillar up to 4 cm long; Butterfly wingspan about 7 cm.
A dark grey to black bird with a yellow-tipped red bill, red frontal shield, red legs, and white undertails. Hatchlings are also black with red frontal shield, juveniles have green legs, green horn or black coloured bill, generally paler. Size 35-40 cm (from head to tail)
This frog goes by several common names: Eastern Banjo Frog, Eastern Pobblebonk Frog and Southern Bullfrog. The first two are based on its distinctive 'bonk' call which sounds similar to the string of a banjo being plucked. Its back ranges from grey, to olive-green, dark brown or black, with dark marbling or flecks. It has a pale yellow stripe running from under its eye to its arm, a dark band above this, and may also have a pale stripe running down its back. Its sides commonly have a purple or bronze sheen, mottled with black. Its belly is white and sometimes mottled with grey. Its back is warty and rough but its belly is smooth. Distinctive feature A prominent gland on the outer side of its hind leg (its shin) and a fleshy lump at the base of each hind foot.
Mottled grey with some yellow tones. There are paired pale blotches along the spine. A grey/brown stripe is found behind the eye to the ear. The underside is also grey with darker circles. Often seen with its mouth open which is yellow in colour. It has a spiny body and tail particularly on the side of the body. Size Up to 67 cm long.
One of Australia’s most iconic and abundant species, the Eastern Grey Kangaroo is a large marsupial with light grey woolly coloured fur, a darker face, and a long, muscular tail that is dark at the distal third. Droppings are unevenly round and around 1-3cm in diameter. Size The Eastern Grey Kangaroo is sexually dimorphic with males significantly larger than females. Males with body length up to 130cm; tail up to 100cm; weight up to 60kg. Females with body length up to 100cm; tail up to 85cm; weight up to 40kg.
The adult male is a distinctive glossy black tinged with iridescent blue and green all over, including its long tail, and it has a striking red eye. The female is glossy brown with white spots on top, and buff-cream underneath with many fine black bars running across its belly. The top of its head is black or brown with pale streaks, and its tail is brown with white bars running across it. A young bird looks like an adult female but has buff barring on its wings and generally much more buff colouring.
The top of the adult male's head is grey-black, extending in a line down either side of its white breast. Its throat is also white, with a rufous patch in the centre. Its wings and lower back are dark metallic grey and its upper back and underneath are buff. In flight, its white outer tail feathers are visible. The female has similar but duller colouring. A young bird has less distinct markings with dark olive on top of its head, a white chin and throat and a cinnamon chest and belly. Distinctive feature It has a very long, fine beak that curves downward.
It has a grey back and head, and bright-yellow underparts. Southern birds have an olive-yellow rump, while birds in northern Australia have a brighter yellow rump. Its throat is off-white and when seen in flight, it has a pale bar on its wings. Its bill is black. Young birds are rufous-brown with paler streaks. Size 13 – 17 cm long, the males are slightly larger
Elephant snails are a type of semi-rare solitary marine snail (mollusc) and look like a black slug with a small white, shield-like shell on their backs. Size 70 - 150 mm
A deciduous tree, usually 12 – 20 m high when planted in parks and gardens but can reach about 40 m high in its natural environment. Its low, wide-spreading and rounded canopy is usually 10 – 18 m wide. Its trunk is typically short, with ridged dark grey to black bark. Leaves Dark green and oval to rectangular in shape with 3 – 7 rounded lobes on either side. They are 7.5 – 12.5 cm long and have a very short stem. They are pale blue-green underneath and turn tan to brown in autumn, before falling from the tree in late winter. Flowers Tiny, green to pale yellow, hanging in slim, cylindrical clusters (known as catkins).
Bright yellow and black bands across its abdomen, with a pair of black spots and a black triangle on each yellow band. It has yellow legs, black antennae and two pairs of transparent wings. Nests are commonly built underground with only their small entrance holes visible, which are about 2 - 3 cm across. Size 1.2 – 1.5 cm long (worker); 2 cm long (queen)
Often called Deciduous Beech, it is Australia’s only cold-deciduous woody plant. The wiry tangled growth of its branches give it another common name, Tanglefoot. A dense shrub. Usually 1 - 3 m tall and wide, with spreading branches. It sometimes grows as a small tree in rainforest. Bark smooth and grey. Leaves Arranged alternately along stems, on short stalks. Individual leaves are rounded in outline with lobed margins; distinct grooves follow the leaf veins making the veins prominent on the lower side. Leaves are 10 - 20 mm long, bright to mid-green, paler on the under surface, turning yellow then orange or red in autumn. Leaves are absent during Winter. New leaves unfold from buds in a concertina fashion in spring. Flowers Separate male and female flowers, small and inconspicuous, and appear in late summer and early autumn.
Dark slate-grey on its head, back and wings, and pale orange-brown below; its undertail is boldly barred black and white. Its legs and feet are dull yellow and its bill is black. Young birds are duller and browner, with mottled markings, especially on their breast and underparts. Distinctive feature A yellow eye-ring which is tinged green in young birds.
A beetle with a shiny black back and head with bright yellow-green markings, and dark brown to black legs. Distinctive feature Violin-shaped markings on its back (after which it is named). Size About 2 cm
Its genus name Stenocarpus means narrow fruit, referring to its seed pods; and its species name sinuatus means wavy, referring to the edges of the leaves. Evergreen tree, up to 35 m high, but much smaller when grown in gardens where it reaches a height of only about 10 m with a width of 5 m. Leaves Dark glossy green and paler underneath, they can be oval-shaped, lobed or have wavy edges. They are usually 15 – 25 cm long (but can be up to 45 cm long) and 2 – 5 cm wide, and are generally smaller on exposed branches. There is one distinct vein running down the centre of each leaf. Flowers Bright red with a yellow tip, and 2.5 – 4 cm long. They cluster in a wheel-like arrangement at the end of a stalk. The cluster can be up to 10 cm in diameter and consists of 6 - 20 flowers.
An adult male has a bright orange breast and throat, with white on its lower belly and under its tail. The upperparts are dark slate grey and there is a clear white stripe on its folded wing. It has a black beak and dark brown legs. A female is mostly grey-brown with a pale buff strip on its wing. Its outermost tail feather is mostly white. A young bird looks like an adult female, but its back has buff streaks and its belly is pale with brown streaks. Size 12  - 14 cm
A grey-brown to orange-brown body, which blends well with tree bark. The frill around its neck is more brightly coloured, ranging from yellow to black, mixed with orange and red. Males have a black belly. Its frill usually lies folded around its shoulders and neck, but as it is connected to its mouth muscles, when its jaw opens wide (such as in alarm), the frill lifts up around its head. Its body is relatively short with a long neck and tail. Size 70 – 95 cm long (from its snout to the end of its tail) two-thirds of which is its tail. Males are bigger than females. Its frill is 20 – 25 cm in diameter.
Its genus name Epicris means upon (epi) and a summit (acris), referring to the altitude where some species occur; and its species name longiflora means long (longus) and flower (florus), referring to the long, narrow flowers. An upright to spreading evergreen shrub, typically straggly with branches arching towards the ground, 0.5 – 2 m high. Leaves With pointed tip and wide base, they are often described as heart-shaped. Each leaf is 5 – 17 mm long, 3 – 6.6 mm wide, and has slightly serrated margins. It is thin, flat, and sometimes has a rough upper surface. Flowers Long and tubular, some have pink-red tubes and white lobes (tips), others are all white. They are 5 – 6 mm in diameter and 12 – 27 mm long, with the lobes being 2.4 – 4.4 mm long. They grow in rows along the branches and are upright at first and then hang down as they reach maturity.
Grey-brown to bronze, with a dark stripe running along each side of its body from its nostril, across its eye to its tail, getting wider from its front legs. Its body pales below the stripe to a cream belly. This species has a lighter body with a less obvious stripe running along its sides than the Southern Garden Skink. Size 8 - 10 cm (nose to end of tail).
Grey-brown to bronze, with a dark stripe running along each side of its body from its nostril, across its eye to its tail, getting wider from its front legs. Its body pales below the stripe to a cream belly. This species has a ‘heavier’ looking body and a more obvious stripe running along its sides, compared to the Northern Garden Skink. Size 8 - 10 cm (nose to end of tail).
The female’s abdomen can be variable but is typically brown to yellow with short silvery-white hairs. The legs are usually black with bright yellow patches on the underside of the many leg joints. Its palps (small leg-like structures on either side of its fangs) are distinctly red. It makes golden webs, after which it is named. Size Females are 4 – 4.5 cm long but the tiny males are only 5 – 6 mm long (body length). The Females can have a legspan of up to 15 cm!
Barnacles are small invertebrates that live inside hard circular or pyramid-like structures made from calcium-carbonate. They are distinguished by their size: they are taller than they are round and have similar shape to a volcano. They can be found singularly or in a group. Giant rock barnacles are the largest type of barnacle and are comprised of six large plates that are white to light green in colour, and have top to bottom (transverse) grooves on them. They have a distinctive bright blue body (mantle) inside. Barnacle larva are free swimming and live in the plankton layer and when they are old enough they return to the rocky shores where they find a spot and cement their heads to the rock and then grow their shell around their body. Size 30 - 60 mm height and 25 - 30 mm diameter.
Bushy or straggly shrub, branchlets more or less angled at extremities, smooth or hairy. Bark is smooth, grey to brown. Commonly grows to 2.5 m high. Leaves Has phyllodes (flattened leaf stalks) that are rounded, usually asymmetric 0.4 – 1.5 cm long and 2 – 8 mm wide, hairy or smooth. Leaf midrib (large midline vein) is obscure or absent, lateral veins also absent. Flowers Bright yellow ball-shaped inflorescences (clusters flowers arranged on a stem) that form in patterns of 5. Flowers appear in late winter and spring and into early summer (July to November).
The male has dark brown forewings (front wings) with pale grey scales, and bronzy-brown hindwings with dark brown patches. The undersides of both wings are pale grey and black. The female has bright orange hindwings with black spots near the edge, while its forewings are similar to the male’s but more grey than brown. The underside of all its wings is white with small black spots near the edge. Both sexes have green eyes. Distinctive feature Its antennae are clubbed, with a knob at the end. Size Male wingspan 3.4 cm, female wingspan 3.1 cm.
The species name pycnantha from the Greek (pyknos) meaning dense, and (anthos) meaning a flower, refers to the dense clusters of flowers. Small shrub or tree. Usually 3 - 8 m high. Leaves Has phyllodes (flattened leaf stalks) that are pinnate (arranged opposite each other on either side of the stem) and sickle-shaped 9 - 15 cm long and 1 - 3.5 cm wide; branchlets on leaves are hairy, sometimes covered in white powdery granules. Flowers Bright golden and sometimes lemon-yellow ball-shaped inflorescences (clusters flowers arranged on a stem). Flowers appear in late winter and spring and into early summer (July to November).
The adult male has a bright-yellow underbody, olive-green back and wings, and a black head with a bright-yellow collar. Its throat is white, with a broad black band which separates it from the yellow breast. Its beak and legs are black. The adult female has grey upperparts with a pale olive tinge, and is pale grey below with a pale yellowish tinge. Its beak is dark brown and its legs are grey-brown. Both sexes have a red-brown eye. Juvenile birds are rufous above and below, and as they mature, gradually resemble a female, though they retain some rufous feathers in their wings.
A reference to its yellow resin, Xanthorrhoea literally means "yellow flow" in Ancient Greek. Grass-tree is a misnomer. Its not a grass, nor a tree.They are actually distantly related to lilies. Perennial flowering plant. Trunk resembles a tree above ground or exists under the earth’s surface. Trunk is woody and made up of tiny packed leaves. Leaves Clustered in a terminal crown, 30 - 140 cm long, rhombic (kite-shaped) to wedge-shaped in cross-section, tapering at the ends. Flowers Borne as flower clusters on a cylindrical and spike-like woody axis. In the bush the flowers could reveal directions, since flowers on the warmer, sunnier side (usually north) of the spike often open before the flowers on the cooler side facing away from the sun.
Medium sized shorebird with a straight, slender bill and a heavily streaked head and neck. Non breeding plumage in Australia; pale to chestnut head, neck and upper breast. White underparts. In breeding plumage they have a black band across the chest, and black, white and reddish speckles on the upperparts (Great Knots breed in Siberia). Size A medium-sized shorebird
Chelonia mydas Other names: Green Sea Turtle, Green Turtle, Tortue verte, Grinfala totel, Uga Vanua Gren Totel are found in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world, including in Vanuatu. Their smooth shells are dark brown, grey or olive with lighter yellow to white undersides. Hatchlings are very dark in colour with white edges on their bodies and flippers. Once mature, they forage in shallow coastal waters, mainly eating seagrass and algae. Every 2-5 years they return to the beach where they hatched to nest. Distinctive features Gren Totel are the largest of the hard-shelled sea turtles, though their head is comparatively small. Their shells are smooth. Distinctive features are their serrated beak on the lower jaws and two large scales located between the eyes. Size These turtles are often over 1 m long and weigh up to 230 kg.    
Medium-sized tree with long ascending branches forming a fairly large crown, grey fibrous bark on the lower branches and trunk. The upper branches have a smooth grey coloured bark. Commonly grows to 10 - 25 m tall. Leaves Juvenile leaves petiolate (a stalk that joins a leaf to a stem), are dull green, oval, usually 15 cm long and 5 cm wide. Adult leaves are narrow oval shape tapering to a point at each end, usually 8 – 15 cm long and 1 – 2 cm wide, clustered and dull green. Flowers The flower buds have cone-like caps. Flowers are cream to white which appear in late summer to winter (February to June).
Also known as Gum-topped Box. Tree to 25 m high. Bark is rough on part or all of trunk, thin, box-type or tessellated (mosaic-like), grey or mottled with grey and white patches; smooth bark white, cream or pale-grey, often shiny. Leaves Adult leaves alternate, broadly lance-shaped, 7 - 17 cm long, 2 - 5 cm wide, green, glossy, concolorous (both sides of the leaf blade are the same colour). Flowers White and usually clustered in groups of 7. Sometimes there are more than 7 or there may appear to be less as flowers have dropped off. They occur in multiple groups at the end of small branches. Flower buds are ovate (egg-shaped) to fusiform (spindle shaped; tapering at both ends), 5 - 9 m long, 3 - 4 mm diameter; scar absent.
Its head and upperparts are mostly dark grey, with a white eyebrow and throat, a narrow grey band across the upper breast and a creamy-buff belly. The feathers of its long tail have white edges and tips, and the tail is often fanned out. Size 14 – 16 cm long
Large to small tree or shrub up to 25 m high (commonly around 5 m), branches, flower heads and lower surface of leaves greyish or silvery Pneumatophores (erect, pencil-like aerial roots specialised for gaseous exchange) are numerous and project from shallow lateral roots. Leaves Leathery and measure up to 16 cm in length and 5 cm in width. They are ovate, pointed and arranged opposite one another on the stems. The leaves are glossy green above with a distinctive pale and slightly hairy, grey underside. Stomata (pores) and salt glands are scattered over the entire leaf surface but are more abundant on the underside. Leaves are often covered in crusted salt from the exuded secretions. Flowers Yellow-orange or golden. Flower clusters dense, arranged at leafy shoot tips; flower stalks 10 – 30 mm long. Flower 4 - 8 mm long with a corolla of four fused pointed petals 3 - 7 mm wide.
Dark grey to brown body, with lighter grey fur on its head and golden-orange fur encircling its neck. Its wings are black. Distinctive feature Fur on its legs that extends to its ankles. Size 23 cm to 29 cm head and body length); wingspan over 1 m.
Giant tussock-like, rosette plant. Grows up to 2.5 m high with a flower stalk up to 5 m high! Its genus name Doryanthes (meaning spear and flower), and its species name excelsa (meaning high), both refer to its tall flower stem. Leaves Long, sword-shaped and forming a clump. Each individual leaf is 1 – 2.5 m long and about 10 cm wide. Shorter leaves up to 30 cm long are found along the flower stem. Flowers Located at the top of a single flower stem which grows from the centre of the tussock of leaves. The stem is 2 – 5 m high upon which the flowers form a cluster up to 70 cm in diameter. The individual flowers are bright red (or rarely white), trumpet-shaped and 10 – 16 cm long.
Eretmochelys imbricata Hoksbil Totel are found in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world, including several nesting areas in Vanuatu. The shell is olive-green or brown with reddish-brown, brown or black markings in a tortoiseshell pattern. The shell is domed and heart-shaped with overlapping scales. The hatchlings are brown to black above and lighter underneath. Distinctive features The Hoksbil Totel has a parrot-like beak and narrow head. Size Adult females weigh between 60 to 80 kg and have a mean curved carapace (hard upper shell) length of 82 cm, though this can grow up to 100 cm in length. Behaviour Movement Before maturing, they spend the first 5 to 10 years of their life drifting on ocean currents. After this, they settle and forage in tropical tidal and sub-tidal coral and rocky reef habitats. Diet Omnivorous but, in many areas, they prefer to eat sea sponges. Breeding Night-time nesters. They generally lay 3 to 5 clutches in a season. Each clutch contains around 130 to 160 eggs.
The Honey Bee's head, upper body and legs are black, and its hairy abdomen is striped black and brown (or yellow/orange). It is pale when it first emerges from the nest, but soon develops a darker colouring. Size 1.2 – 1.6 cm long (Queen bee is slightly longer)
Dark grey to black on top and usually white on the belly. Humpbacks have very large, elongate pectoral fins, a small but prominent dorsal fin and a large, bushy blow (up to 5 m tall). The large fins, dark tail with white underneath, active breaching and tendency to “hump” their backs and raise their tail out of the water before diving, distinguish humpbacks from other whales. Size Adult humpbacks can reach a length of up to 15 m.
Deciduous tree, up to 35 m high, but much smaller when grown in gardens and in cooler areas where it reaches a height of only about 10 m. It can take 5 – 8 years to flower if grown from a seed. Leaves Smooth, oval-shaped and can have three or five lobes (and sometimes more). Each leaf is 10 – 30 cm long. The tree loses some or all of its leaves at the end of winter, before flowering, and the leaves turn yellow just before falling. Flowers Bright coral-red and bell-shaped, they occur in clusters at the end of branches. They are 1 – 2 cm long and have a waxy surface. They appear after the tree has lost all or some of its leaves.
Tree up to 35 m tall. The bark is rough over whole trunk and branches, thick, hard, grooved, black (ironbark). Leaves Juvenile leaves petiolate (have a stalk), are opposite for a few pairs then alternate, narrowly to broadly tapering to a point, to 17 cm long and 4 cm wide, more or less discolorous, green or greyish-green or glaucous (covered with a a greyish, bluish, or whitish powder or waxy coating). Adult leaves petiolate, alternate, lance-head shaped, 9.5 – 22 cm long and 1 – 2 cm wide, concolorous (the lower leaf surface distinctly different in colour from the upper), green or glaucous; reticulation dense with numerous intersectional oil glands. Flowers It blooms producing inflorescences with flowers that are white, rarely pink. Keep an eye out for the flower caps that cover developing flowers and may fall on the ground at the end of flowering.
Deciduous tree, not native to Australia. Grows up to 15 m high and wide. Leaves Bright green, feathery and fern-like. Individual leaves are narrow and elliptic, 3 – 12 mm long and arranged either side of a 5 – 10 cm long stem. They turn yellow in autumn before falling from the tree. Flowers Blue-purple and trumpet-shaped, forming clusters that are 20 – 30 cm in diameter. Each individual flower is 2 – 3 cm long and about 1 cm wide. They are lightly fragranced and remain on the tree for about 2 months. There are four stamens inside the flower which produce pollen, and also a staminode which doesn’t produce any pollen.
Arboreal (tree-dwelling) marsupial with large furry ears, a prominent black nose and a vestigial tail. Its fur is thick and ash grey or grey-brown on the dorsal side with an off-white/pale yellow underside. Size Koalas from Australia’s southern regions are larger than that of their northern counterparts, with head-body length ranging from 72-78cm.
Found in two broad forms. The main form is dark grey to dull blueish-black with numerous, scattered, cream-colored spots. The snout is marked with prominent black and yellow bands extending under the chin and neck. The tail has narrow black and cream bands which are narrow and get wider towards the end of the tail. The other type, known as Bells form, is typically found in dryer parts of NSW and Queensland. It has broad, black and yellow bands across the body and tail. Close up, these bands are made up of various spotted patterns. Also known as the Tree Goanna. Size About 55cm long (head and body); 140 cm long (head to tail). Some may grow up to 2.1 m long (head to tail).
Large, spreading tree, up to 14 m in height. Also know as Red Bush Apple. Leaves Variable in shape, oblong, ovate or lanceolate, usually large 7 - 19 cm long and 4 - 13 cm wide. Leaf midrib slightly grooved, depressed or flush with the upper surface. Flowers Large cream white brushes with long white stamens (pollen-containing anther) 13-48 mm long.
Leaf Beetles are also known as Pittosporum Beetles or Bursaria Beetles, after their host species. The beetles have a bright red head and pronotum with an entirely blue or green body. The larvae have a brown head with six distinct black eye spots on each side. Pale underside, dark upperside with dark spines. They are aposemtatic, meaning they are posionous to visual predators. Be very careful if handling them. Size 0.6 - 1.4 cm long; body narrow and flat. Length to width ratio ranges from 2:1 to 2.5:1. Length to height ratio is 3.5:1.
Predominantly pale tawny-orange with a heavy black border that encloses large white spots in the forewing. The inner leading edge of the forewing is deep red-brown. The underside is similar to the upper side but paler with narrower black margins. Males have a distinct patch of dark grey sex-scales on the upper side of the hindwing. The caterpillars have three pairs of tentacles and yellow, white and black rings. Size 7 - 8 cm wingspan.
Dermochelys coriacea Leta Bak Totel are found in tropical and temperate regions of the world, with small numbers nesting in Vanuatu. The shell is made of soft leathery skin with seven ridges or keels. The colour is mostly black with differing amounts of pale spotting, including a pink spot on the heads of adults. It has paddle-like limbs that are clawless and black with white margins and pale spots. Hatchlings are predominantly black with white margins on their flippers and keels on the shell. Distinctive features The Leta Bak Totel has a shell that is a soft leathery skin with seven ridges or keels. It is the only sea turtle without a hard shell. It has no teeth and uses its sharp beak to catch food. Size The Leta Bak Totel grows up to 180 cm long and weighs up to 700 kg. Behaviour Movement Leta Bak Totels are highly active with individuals spending as little as 0.1% of the day resting. They are one of the deepest-diving marine animals and can move very fast. They are mostly found in open ocean. They follow their preferred prey into deeper water during the daytime and into shallower water at night. Adults can undertake long-distance migration between cold feeding waters and tropical or subtropical beaches where they hatch. Unlike other sea turtles, Leta Bak Totel do not always return to their hatching beach to nest. Diet Leta Bak Totel eat mostly jellyfish, but will also take other soft-bodied creatures. Its favourite food is the venomous Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish. Breeding They prefer to breed on beaches that face deep water and avoid locations protected by coral reefs. Mating occurs at sea and males never leave the water once they enter as hatchlings. Females mate every 2 to 3 years and can nest up to 10 times in a single nesting season. As many as 9 clutches are laid by a single female in a breeding season, spaced around 9 days apart. Clutch size is around 110 eggs.
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