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Australia Day, shrimp on the BBQ?

Australia Day, shrimp on the BBQ?

Sheree Marris, Unico Conservation Foundation Director

January 26, 2022

We respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners of Australia.

As some of us prepare to celebrate Australia Day by throwing shrimp on the BBQ, we thought we’d celebrate by sharing some spectacular shrimp footage from our big blue backyard.

Enter the Mantis Shrimp. Named after the terrestrial Praying Mantis that also employs a quick-strike attack – it has the fastest claw in the west. 

There are two distinct types, smashers and spearers based on their front claw design. They both can lash out with an acceleration similar to that of a 22 calibre bullet with 10,400 g-force.

Exploding from their burrows spearers will stab and latch onto their prey, while the smashers’ strike using their club-like claw to knock out prey. This action is so quick that a cavitation bubble forms as water vaporises. When the bubble collapses, a second shock wave of energy hits the already stunned prey; it is a real double whammy! The prey doesn’t see it coming until it’s too late.

The Mantis Shrimp also boasts the worlds most sophisticated sight and has 16 colour receptors that can see polarised light, UV light, and tens of thousands of colours that our human three colour receptor eyes just can’t see.

Fun fact: Shrimp and prawns are not the same things.

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UCF

The environmental impact of COVID – 129 billion masks

The environmental impact of COVID – 129 billion masks

National Recycling Week 8-14 November

Sheree Marris

The ‘C’ word, COVID has come at a massive cost to society, but it’s not the only cost. Our environment is also paying the penalty. This mask will outlive the seagull that it has trapped, by over 400 years! The true environmental impact of COVID.

Sad fact
129 billion disposable face masks are thrown
into landfill every month.

New research shows 129 billion disposable face masks are thrown into landfill every month. That doesn’t take into consideration the numbers that are littered and trap wildlife including this seagull.  

Disposable masks are also made up of polypropylene, polyethylene, and vinyl, capable of releasing chemical pollutants and nasty nano-plastics into the environment.

I waited patiently trying to get close to throw my jacket over the bird so I could cut the mask off, all to no avail. You can see the straps are already cutting off the circulation to the birds leg. It will eventually drop off, risk infection and make the bird more vulnerable to predators and no doubt cut short its life.

Sheree Marris, UCF Director

This is why you should consider investing in reusable masks where possible and practical (we understand that in some industries and circumstances this isn’t possible) and if you can’t please cut the straps on disposable masks.

Please take a moment to think about your contribution to the environmental impact of COVID and how you recycle in your day to day life – we can all make better small choices that result in a huge collective impact.

For more information on the Unico Conservation Foundation projects and initiatives, visit www.unicoconservationfoundation.org.au.

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UCF

National Bird Week

National Bird Week

Sheree Marris

A little birdie told us that this week was National Bird Week.

National Bird Week is when we celebrate our feather friends and it seems like we have a lot here in Australia – over 850 species in fact, of which 45% are found nowhere else in the world.

Some of the most fascinating species fly not only in the air but also underwater, and our project Melbourne Down Under captured this in their incredible documentary.

The Australasian Gannet, a species of elegant-looking seabirds who aren’t scared to dive into danger headfirst. They are in fact built for it. From the equivalent height of a six-story building, with wings folded back, these streamlined sea birds spear the ocean’s surface at speeds of 100km/h into schools of fish. It’s a topside attack that sends fish into a frenzy. 

With double-thick skulls that act like crash helmets, and built-in airbags to protect their bodies, gannets take to the sea like a, well… ‘gannet to water’. If a target is missed, the wings turn into fins and are used to swim around to make another pass. With hundreds, sometimes thousands of birds attacking the one school of fish.

Fun fact
Did you know a bird watcher
is called a twitcher?

For more information on the Unico Conservation Foundation projects and initiatives, visit www.unicoconservationfoundation.org.au.

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UCF

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

How the Unico Conservation Foundation is helping eradicate poverty

Sheree Marris

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on the 17th of October, focuses on ending persistent poverty, respecting all people and our planet. The World Bank estimates that recent global events will push 143 and 163 million people into poverty. These ‘new poor’ will join the ranks of the 1.3 billion people already living in poverty.

There is no simple solution, it’s a multidimensional phenomenon that encompasses a lack of income, food security, basic healthcare and education.

At the Unico Conservation Foundation, we work with projects and people in developing countries through; training programs to equip communities with the skills, knowledge and resources to build sustainable livelihoods.

This includes training women to set up marine protected areas that provide food security and drives the economy through eco-tourism as well as investing in restoring fragile mangrove communities that are vital nurseries for fish.


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UCF

National Threatened Species Day – Weedy Seadragon

National Threatened Species Day – Weedy Seadragon

7 September 2021

The Unico Conservation Foundation has a commitment to bringing back from the brink of extinction some of the world’s most unique marine animals by supporting conservation projects such as Melbourne Down Under and its flagship species the threatened Weedy Seadragon. This community education and awareness campaign have engaged and created resources for local communities, marine communicators and teachers.

The content and documentary have been showcased on national networks and secured over $5 million in free media coverage to media platforms all around the world.

Key insights about Weedy Seadragons

  • Seadragons hide in plain sight – mimicking floating seaweed swaying in the push and pull of the tides.
  • Weed-like appendages along their elegant bodies help them to disappear into the seaweed, where safely camouflaged they can feed at leisure on small shrimp using their long straw-like mouth.
  • The armour-plated skeleton of this fairytale-like fish also protects it from becoming a meal for other potential predators.
  • What it can’t protect itself from is its fast-disappearing habitat.
  • This giant kelp forest is one of only 5% remaining in Tasmania.
  • The powerful Eastern Australian Current that runs down Tasmania’s Eastern coastline is pushing down increasingly warmer waters, far less rich in nutrients.
  • This heat stresses the giant kelp, and the nutrient depleted water starves it. This combination is lethal.

The good news

The good news is the Unico Conservation Foundation is proactively working to help protect not only threatened species like the Weedy Seadragon, but the habitats which it calls home through a range of education initiatives including Melbourne Down Under.

To find out more about the fabulous work the Unico Conservation Foundation is doing visit unicoconservationfoundation.org.au.

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UCF

National Biodiversity Month – celebrating all things underwater

National Biodiversity Month – celebrating all things underwater

Video credit: Sheree Marris, Unico Conservation Foundation Director

September 2021

At the Unico Conservation Foundation, we believe diversity is vital to the success of our work and we work in some enviable places, underwater.

When we are under the sea, our attire includes wetsuits to protect some of the most biodiverse habitats and life on earth from trees with snorkels, dragons with fins and birds that swim.

In celebration of National Biodiversity Month, we’ve collated a video showcasing this biodiversity in Melbourne’s blue backyard.

To find out more about the fabulous work the Unico Conservation Foundation is doing visit unicoconservationfoundation.org.au.

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UCF

Building conservation through an ecommerce customer portal

ecommerce customer portal

Building conservation through an ecommerce customer portal

Revealing Melbourne’s best kept secret to an audience of millions through an ecommerce customer portal solution.


Customer

  • Melbourne Down Under

Project

  • Ecommerce customer portal

Objectives

  • Create an ecommerce customer portal to support social media efforts to reach new markets and raise awareness within the Australian community

Approach

  • Creation of website, media platform and secure ecommerce solution
  • Real time engagement and dissemination of information, events and products

Outcome

  • Integrating social media and SEO efficient designs have contributed to an audience reach of over 5 million people that led to more than $2 million of free media coverage

Melbourne Down Under (MDU) is a campaign to raise the profile of Port Phillip Bay’s unique marine life through several high profile media platforms. A partnership with state government, local councils, key stakeholders and community groups, the project also raises funds through product sales to seed fund marine projects in the local community.

The lynchpin to the project was MDU – the jewels of Port Phillip Bay, a stunning coffee table book showcasing the colour and diversity of the local marine environment. World-class photographs and entertaining text is used to engage and educate the readers while highlighting important conservation messaging. A list of local friends groups and tourism operators are also included to encourage people to get involved in their community and see first hand the wonders of the bay.

To support the book and meet project objectives, MDU required an attractive and user friendly website portal that could effectively promote MDU, support social media efforts and manage product purchase and distribution.

conservation through ecommerce customer portal

With our extensive IT expertise and long history of supporting conservation initiatives, Unico were approached to help deliver this vital element of the project. It was an exciting opportunity to showcase to the world the brilliant colour and diversity of Port Phillip, which is difficult to protect when few people know of its value, and it is a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.


“Unico were pivotal in providing the seed funding, technology capabilities and ecommerce expertise to give this project the fins it needed to swim. The IT solutions Unico have delivered far exceed our expectations, meeting all our on line needs and provide the opportunity to expand MDU project in the future.”

Sheree Marris – Melbourne Down Under Project Manager and Aquatic Scientist


Our enthusiastic and talented team developed an engaging website platform and secure ecommerce customer portal solution with user editable content and social media linking allowing real-time engagement and dissemination of information, events and products.

The MDU website is now a valuable platform that educates, facilitates
dialogue with the community and hosts a secure shopping cart facility with
promotional voucher discount facility to successfully market MDU products to a national and global audience.

ecommerce customer portal

Integrating social media and SEO efficient designs have contributed to an
audience reach of over 5 million people that has led to more than $2 million of free media coverage including front page features in some of Australia’s leading magazines and newspapers.

The project has continued to grow while raising funds that will be reinvested back into local communities to seed fund local marine legacy projects and help develop a marine stewardship ethic in the community.


John Rowland

Managing Director

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