This past weekend our region experienced its first heat wave of the season.
Many locations on the North Coast experienced days of 40*c plus, including a town called Casino which is just to the west of us.
On Friday Casino reached 36.5*c, Saturday was a scorching 44.1*c followed by Sunday which reached 40.6*c.
Temperatures towards the coast were cooler, tempered by their proximately to the ocean.
But, the heat impacts upon us all. The Health Department issues warnings and identify that children, the elderly and people with compromised health are at risk. Of course so are all the animals, domestic and wild.
As mentioned a couple of weeks ago here, our local Flying Foxes are particularly vulnerable during heat waves.
Our local Flying Foxes are simply not equipped to deal with such high temperatures. They’re a sub-tropical or tropical animal, so they are used to sustained high temperatures but accompanied with high humidity – which generally restricts temperatures from going over 35 degrees Celsius.
I grew up locally, and to be honest l can’t remember experiencing these sorts of heat waves as a kid. Sure we had hot days, but these more frequent and prolonged events of temperatures sitting around the 40 degree Celsius mark for days on end is (in my opinion) not normal for here.
Experts have been advising that climate change will lead to an increase in the frequency, intensity and duration of temperature extremes. Are these heat waves the start of such extremes?
Our worst fears were realised on the weekend, when the temperature soared on Saturday Flying Foxes started to die from exposure. At the Casino colony, they started to drop from the trees in their hundreds. By Sunday, the estimation is that around 5,000 adults died from the heat.
You can see local media coverage of the event here.
At this time of year, most of the females are either pregnant or are carrying small young. As their mothers die, they are shielded from the heat wrapped in her wings, and continue to suckle on her milk even after she dies. For these reasons many of the young survived.
In total 450 baby Flying Foxes were rescued from Casino on the weekend.
The orphans have been shipped out to wildlife carers across the state who have all answered the call to assist with the mammoth job of hand raising these babies.
If these heat events continue, they’ll pose a significant threat to threat to the survival of this vulnerable species and the important ecosystem services they provide. The species simply cannot reproduce at a rate high enough to compensate for the loss of thousands of individuals each summer.
Since 1994, over 30,000 flying-foxes have been killed during 19 heat exhaustion events. This past weekend, we added another 5,000 to the total.
Hope you've all had a more positive experience this week reconnecting with nature. Looking forward to seeing all your photographs.
- Share with us something you've noticed in nature.
- Only share one post per week, and link to that post rather than your general blog address.
- If you can, please include something about your find that allows us all to learn more about the world around us. Just a few sentences about the tree you’ve photographed, or the bird you've seen, or how you’re noticing the seasons change is all you need.
- Visit as many links as you can, amazing things are shared every week.
- And finally, please include a link back to Living a Good North Coast Life in your post.