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Maratus Sapphirus a new species of Peacock Spider, found by Helen Ransom, named and photographed by Stuart Harris 2016 at the Atlas of Life/Four Winds BioBlitz

The Atlas of Life exists to bring people closer to the wonders of the nature that surrounds us in our beautiful region.

We are a community project that relies on the interest and expertise of a large community of people giving their time as volunteers to work we enjoy and feel is meaningful.

We spend our time creating activities and building our database rather than applying for lots of grants(the ratio of applicants to success in being awarded a grant for all environmental/science grants is around 5% these days). However we could do much more if we had more resources, so we welcome donations small and large to assis our efforts.

On October 11th 2017 we became a Registered Environmental Organisation with Deductable Gift Recipient(DGR) status. This allows donors to claim tax relief on the amount of their donation.

If you would like to make a donation please use our Atlas of Life Public Fund Account which is

BSB: 032 704    Account number: 222 206

Please also let us have a name and email so we may send you a tax receipt.

Warm Currents ,More fish…and Octopus activity

p1000743 p1000748 .p1000823p1000727 p1000822p1000801 p1000759There is so much to see,different species each time and we are continually adding to the list .Please send us photos to add to our data base .

Tropical Visitors….and more



Threadfin Butterfly                                             Sergeant Major                                                   Magpie Perch

Blue Damsel                      p1010287

Fan-belly Leatherjacketp1000110?? Leatherjacket & Madop1050510The water has warmed since the end of January &   amongst the many small fish visiting are a few juvenile tropicals ,Threadfin ,Dusky & Vagabond Butterfly,Sergeant Majors & Scissor Tail Sergeant,Mado ,Stripey,Blue Damsel & Pencilled Surgeonfish &,various Leatherjackets to name a few.Most of these shown are from the Bar Beach area …would welcome some good photos from anyone but I hope that by naming them you can perhaps add to the collection of sightings & photos.

Pencilled SurgeonfishPencilled Surgeonfish

Octopus’s Garden in the making…

This Octopus [ Octopus tetricus ] dragged the Triton towards his hole until it disappeared ,no doubt that the triton will be part of the octopus’s garden now.

There were several ‘gardens’ in the area ,some were tidier than others and one octopus was sharing with a large 11 armed Seastar [ Coscinasterias muricata ]or was it not a friendly  arrangement ?


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Peacock spider found at Four Winds BioBlitz

The 2016 Atlas of Life and Four Winds BioBlitz on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th November was blessed by unexpected good weather and a number of exciting finds as well as art and music. 0ver 90 bird species were spotted, Koala scat was found and a possible new species of spider was recorded by Helen Ransom from Narooma on a survey led by Stuart Harris. The spider has been sent to experts for identification and in time we will know if it is indeed a new species.

an unknown Peacock spider found by Helen Ransom at the Four Winds BioBlitz Photo Stuart Harris

an unknown Peacock spider found by Helen Ransom at the Four Winds BioBlitz
Photo Stuart Harris

90 school students from across the Shire explored with Bournda EEC and a host of families and friends attended the bioBlitz from 6 am until late after dark when the moths, possums and night creatures had come out. 65 surveys were led by expert scientists and naturalists to explore and record the Four Winds site and nearby forest and beach habitats to build the biggest species list possible over two days.

The waterbug team led by Cecil Ellis and Steve Skinner had fun observing what range of creatures are living in the dam on site and they visited a site on the Murrah river not far from Four Winds that had been a Reference site in the 1980’s. We were delighted to record that the water is still very healthy, with a few of the key target species that indicate the highest level of water quality.

Steve Williams came all the way from Bendigo to see our NSW moths and found a number of species he had never seen before. Andrew Claridge and David Jackson showed how to set small mammal traps and Andrew Morrison set camera traps and they recorded a host of creatures – goannas, echidnas, antechinus and a fox, all looking for food near the cameras.

Four Winds provided the fabulous setting for the BioBlitz, Masterclasses in botanical illustration and photography and a splendid concert by Four Play string quartet to finish the week-end off.


A big thanks to all Survey Leaders and Volunteers and everyone who joined us to participate and who made the event such fun. Together we are building a significant species list of what lives here now and we will return from time to time to see how the biodiversity has increased ast the Four Winds planting program adds to the mix of habitats on their site.

As yet unidentified Maratus (Peacock spider) found by Helen Ransom Photo Stuart Harris

As yet unidentified Maratus (Peacock spider)
found by Helen Ransom 12th november 2016
Photo Stuart Harris

2016 BioBlitz at Four Winds near Bermagui

This year’s BioBlitz will be at and around the Four Winds site near Bermagui November Friday 11th and Saturday 12th and it will be exciting and different with arts and music as well as all the varied biodiversity surveys.

BioBlitz waterbug survey

BioBlitz waterbug survey

This year we are partnering with Four Winds to help them gather information to develop plans for their Arboretum.

Four Winds are creating an Arboretum on their site so they need good baseline data about what biodiversity is there now and what lives in surrounding habitats, so they can track how the ecological communities develop as the trees and shrubs of the arboretum become established.

Put the dates in your diary and let us know if you would like to lead a survey or volunteer as a survey leader’s assistant or help us as a volunteer at Basecamp or with data input.

Elisabeth Larsen helps participants ID small mammals

Elisabeth Larsen helps participants ID small mammals

Contact Libby Hepburn: 0458 798 990 for more information.

Find out more about opening lakes

Bega Valley Shire Council will run a series of community information sessions this month to explain its policies and procedures for managing intermittently closing and opening lakes or lagoons (ICOLL) entrances throughout the Shire.
Council’s Coastal Management Officer, Kyran Crane, said that over the past year, Council has been reviewing the procedures for opening the ICOLLs and has formalised its “Entrance Opening Policies” for the lakes that require, or have in the past required, mechanical intervention.

Wonboyn Lake

Wonboyn Lake





There has been a comprehensive review of environmental factors and summary policies developed for seven of the shires ICOLLs – Wallaga Lake, Cuttagee Lake, Bega River, Wallagoot Lake, Back Lake, Curalo Lagoon and Wonboyn Lake.
“World-wide, ICOLLs are quite rare and the NSW south coast is home to most of Australia’s ICOLLs and, probably, most of the world’s,” he said.
“Bega Valley Shire has 24 of the 70 ICOLLs in NSW and seven of these have required Council to artificially open the entrance in the past,”
“We are committed to the health of our local estuaries and are focused on moving towards less artificial entrance intervention into the future,”
“However, there are established water level trigger heights for each ICOLL that requires it to be opened artificially and these are based on trying to find the balance between allowing the ICOLLs to follow their natural patterns and nuisance flooding and inundation of public and private assets,” Mr Crane said.
Anyone interested in learning more about these policies can attend an information session at the following locations.
Bega River and Wallagoot (session 1) on 16 May from 2pm to 6pm at the Tathra Surf Club;
Curalo Lagoon on 17 May from 2pm to 6pm at the Eden Library;
Back Lake & Wallagoot (session 2) on 18 May from 2pm to 6pm at Bega Valley Regional Training Centre, Merimbula (formerly the Auswide building);
Wonboyn Lake on 19 May from 3pm to 6pm at the Wonboyn Fire Shed; and
Wallaga Lake and Cuttagee Lake on 20 May from 2.30pm to 6.30pm at the Bermagui Library.
Each session will be attended by representatives from Council, the Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Fisheries and Water Research Laboratory (project consultant).
They will be run as informal drop in sessions so booking is not required – just show up in the time slots mentioned.
For more information phone Council’s Environmental Services Section on 6499 2222.

Gloomy Octopus and underwater companions

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Gloomy Octopus                                                            Threadfin Butterflyfish

The water is still warm enough & clear enough to  see plenty of activity around Bar beach,Merimbula,quite a few Gloomy Octopus [Octopus tetricus ]  and many small fish including tropicals.

This dark coloured octopus had one tentacle down a crevice where another octopus was seen ….maybe mating ,the dark colour might be an indication of aggression ,was pale when first spotted ,then he changed colour & made himself look larger….and more like Ecklonia radiata [ common kelp ].Amazing creatures to watch.


Girdled Parma & White Ear juveniles.

Underwater World

Blue DamselsConvict Surgeonfish

Small tropicals & large residents

Have you been snorkelling recently  amongst the myriads of small tropicals & larger residents at Bar Beach,Merimbula ? The water is a lovely temperature,very beautiful to be surrounded by the tiny fish feeding on the Cunjevoi and the occasional much larger swimming companion gliding by …….


Young Tiger Quoll filmed near Bateman’s Bay

David Gallan, a fine wildlife photographer has been on the track of Quolls for some time now and his patience has just paid off with some great film. He managed to get a dozen clips of two young quolls and an adult up on the escarpment, inland from Batemans Bay. As he said, “It’s been a long time coming” – but wasn’t it worth it!

Congratulations David and thanks for sharing.Young Tiger Quoll - David Gallan