I found the Tasmanian Devil!

I found the Tasmanian Devil!

I’ve finally found it! The endangered, elusive Tasmanian Devil!

Today I visited the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo where you can get up close and personal with some of Tasmania’s wild creatures. It’s more than just a zoo. Or, I should say, it’s not a zoo at all. I’ll get to that but first the exciting part – I got to watch two Tassie devils wait in anticipation of fresh food then devour a chunk of wallaby! They’re such interesting creatures. About the size of a small dog, they look really cute and cuddly. Yet, they have the strongest jaws next to a shark and can tear tough meat and crunch through bones as if they were toothpicks. They’re carnivores but they don’t hunt. They scavenge for food.
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Dolphins sighted at Maria Island!

Dolphins sighted at Maria Island!

I decided to take a day off cycling to see Maria Island by boat. Maria Island is the oldest penal settlement in Tasmania and it’s also famous among geologists internationally. Plus it’s surrounded by hundreds of dolphins surging through and jumping out of the water! At least it was today for the lucky folks who joined Skipper Steve on the East Coast Cruises tour of the island.
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Melbourne’s Cat Cafe

Melbourne’s Cat Cafe

Melbourne is a city with a tremendous amount of variety and there’s even something for the cat lover looking for a fix. Cat Cafe Melbourne opened in 2014 with the aim of creating a calm and relaxing environment where people could come share some affection with their 14 resident cats. Cat cafés got their start in Taiwan and Japan and have been experiencing rapid growth in popularity over the last few years. Melbourne’s Cat Café is the first to open in Australia.
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2015 in 12 Photos

As 2015 draws to a close, I feel the need to look back and reflect upon the year. I’ve had some great adventures and lots of good memories.

January - Sea kayaking in Belize
January – sea kayaking and whitewater canoeing in Belize
February - learning jungle survival skills with two ex-military in Belize
February – learning jungle survival skills with two Guatemalan ex-military
March - Getting accredited as a PADI Scuba Rescue Diver in Honduras
March – getting accredited as a PADI Rescue Diver in Honduras
April - trekking in Nepal
April – trekking the Manaslu Circuit and barely surviving the earthquake in Nepal
May - walking across Scotland from coast to coast as part of the TGO Challenge
May – walking across Scotland from coast to coast as part of the TGO Challenge
June - Absorbing backcountry skills in Colorado
June – absorbing backcountry skills in Colorado
July - Hiking the famed West Coast Trail in unbelievably dry conditions
July – hiking the famed West Coast Trail in unbelievably dry conditions
August - Navigating crevasses and conquering alpine peaks in BC
August – navigating crevasses and conquering alpine peaks in BC
September - Canoeing peaceful lakes in Alberta
September – canoeing peaceful lakes in Alberta
October - volunteering with rescued puppies in Turks and Caicos
October – volunteering with rescued puppies in Turks and Caicos
November - Cycle touring through Sri Lanka
November – cycle touring through tea plantations and cloud forests in Sri Lanka
December - living like a local in Melbourne
December – celebrating my 7th and final continent in Australia!

Stranded in the Sri Lankan Jungle

Stranded in the Sri Lankan Jungle

I’m exploring Sri Lanka by bicycle with a great group of people, visiting Buddhist temples and ancient ruins while cycling through remote rural areas that few people ever see. One of the highlights so far has been Wasgamuwa National Park. Wasgamuwa is home to a large population of Sri Lankan elephants (which means you have to visit on a jeep safari since the elephants might trample cyclists).
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Turks and Caicos Islands’ Puppy Rescue Group

Turks and Caicos Islands’ Puppy Rescue Group

Turks and Caicos is a set of Caribbean islands a few hundred miles east of Cuba. It’s a tropical paradise in every sense – endless white sandy beaches, warm turquoise water, friendly people, and delicious food. But it isn’t such a paradise if you’re born here as one of the unfortunate street dogs often seen picking through trash for food or scurrying away into bushes as cars whip by. As in many places where spaying/neutering is uncommon, the population of street dogs is growing rapidly and the dogs are considered a nuisance. The life expectancy of a stray is a short three years. A large portion die from diseases like parvo and distemper before they even make it to adulthood.
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Spectacular Maligne Lake – a canoeist’s dream

Spectacular Maligne Lake – a canoeist’s dream

After a wonderfully relaxing time paddling Alberta’s only canoe circuit in Lakeland Provincial Park, Sil and I decided to head to Jasper’s Maligne Lake for yet more canoeing. The two couldn’t be more different! Maligne Lake is a striking turquoise colour and it’s surrounded by spectacular snowy mountains. You paddle beneath lush avalanche slopes (where you might spot a bear if you’re lucky!) and relax around campfires as you watch the sunset illuminate glaciers high above.

Coronet Creek campground
Coronet Creek campground parking

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Maltese Falconry

Maltese Falconry

The Maltese are passionate about two things: fireworks and shooting birds. Walk between any two villages and you’re sure to suddenly hear BANG-BANG-BANG! In fact, many species of birds are in danger of disappearing from the five islands that compose the country. But things are changing and some Maltese are starting to protect its avian citizens.

Malta Falconry Centre
Malta Falconry Centre

Earlier this week we had the opportunity to visit the fantastic Malta Falconry Centre. The centre exists both to protect birds of prey and also to educate people on how to care for them. It makes sense that wildlife conservation in Malta would start with falcons. The islands used to have an abundance of falcons and, in fact, when the Holy Roman Emperor granted Malta to the Knights of St John in 1530, the price was one of these revered falcons per year.

The first thing that happens every morning at the centre is weighing in. Birds of prey are very sensitive to how much they weigh – too high and they won’t fly, too low and they are hard to train (it’s hard to listen when you’re too hungry).

Weighing in
Morning weigh-in

The centre has not just falcons but many different kinds of birds of prey.
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Grizzly Research in the Rockies

Grizzly Research in the Rockies

Throughout the spring and early summer, I’ve been volunteering with Sarah Elmeligi, a PhD candidate researching the threatened Grizzly Bear population in the Canadian Rockies. It’s estimated that there are only 120 grizzlies in Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho National Parks, known for harsh weather and sparse food. Sarah’s research focuses on understanding how the presence of people on a trail affect bear behaviour. As humans, we think of trails as being just for us. But animals know that trails are often the easiest way to get from one place to another too. Just how long does that bear wait to come back onto the trail after you’ve walked by? She heard (and smelled!) you coming, but just how close did you get before she slipped into the woods? More importantly, how much more difficult are we making the lives of these bears by impacting their ability to move about their home in search of food and mates?
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