Yesterday, Tim told us that we needed to be ready (with cameras) at 10 am for a “surprise trip.” I got behind the wheel of the truck (yes, on the left side of the road) and followed his directions out of Exmouth and out into an industrial area near the shore. We only caught pieces of the directions he was reading off of his phone, but we knew we were looking for a high fence, an unfinished house, a shed out back… Kaja and I were pretty sure we were about to be murdered. On arrival we were greeted by a sheepdog, a gander, and a kind-looking woman who revealed the surprise: she was fostering two joeys.
Only a few months old, the joeys (baby kangaroos, or baby wallaroos to be more specific) were curled up in makeshift “pouches” sewn out of old jeans and tshirts. Heads poking out, they sniffed the air and one watched us enter with bright eyes. The other had recently been quite sick, possibly from a fungal infection or E. coli, and was still a bit slow, though on the mend.
Jimmy, the more active of the pair, was soon out and about inspecting our cameras, pockets, and backpacks in search of his mid-morning bottle. Holding the bottle above his head, we were told that joeys like having something to hold on to while eating- cue the most adorable hand-holding the world has ever seen.
Their mothers, unfortunately, had been victims of the many road collisions in the area. CARE, an Australian organization that handles many of the fostering organizations and wildlife protection, networks across adoptive joey moms and organizes releases into the outback when the young ones are old enough to support themselves. The success rate is remarkably high, and we could tell that the woman caring for these two little guys knew her macropods.
And they were unbearably cute. Like a cross between the fluffiest of rabbits and the tiniest deer, big ears and big eyes and soft tummies, little clawed hands and giant feet, bouncing across the lawn and nibbling bits of leaves and flowers… A+ for surprise trip planning, Tim.
Because the wind seemed to be pretty calm while we were visiting our new friends, we took the boat out to Bundegi Bay in hopes of completing a few transects. On arrival, the whitecaps didn’t seem to be dying down, so instead we wandered across some nearby mud flats and tidepools, encountering a few very irate master burglars:
As I stepped over the first one, flattened against the bottom of a shallow tidal pool, it turned red and squirted water all over my leg; if it hadn’t done so I’d have had no idea it was there. We don’t think it was a blue-ringed species (mighty poisonous) due to the lack of blue rings, but if it had been I’m sure glad it chose to warn me before launching any sort of attack. Shifting colors, it watched us warily until we headed back to the truck and trailered boat, returning to the house for more dolphin photo ID and, after dinner, a lot of personal photo editing. More joey photos to come, probably on bad-weather days over the next few weeks. They’re more than good compensation for having to skip today’s boat trip, but this weekend looks like smooth sailing (or motoring, or whatever) so hopefully we’ll be out on the water quite a bit!
Fluffy baby animals AND cephalopods in one day, plus the promise of boats and dolphins this weekend- this is a happy Agent Red Squirrel signing off for tonight.