The coast and islands continue to form an important part of the mythological landscape of the region for the Gumbaingirr people. The coastal headlands are also important for the Aboriginal community "Look at Me Now" an important place in the creation story. These headlands provide a good potential for Aboriginal interpretation if the local community so desire.
In terms of the islands, fishing rights and community access is also an important aspect for the Aboriginal community.
There have been no Aboriginal studies or surveys conducted on the island to date. Potential research and interpretive themes relate to prehistoric occupation, sites and land and sea use.
Terns - The Little Tern is a small, slender, migratory or partly migratory seabird. At less than 25 cm long it is two- thirds to half the size of any other south-eastern tern.
Pale grey upperparts contrast with the white chest, underbelly and the moderately long, deeply forked tail (80 - 110 mm). The Little Tern has a black cap and black outer wing-edges.
During breeding the bill (26 - 32 mm) and legs change from black to yellow, and a black wedge appears from the bill to the eye. During non-breeding, the Little Tern's black cap shrinks to a black nape and its bill becomes black.
Numbers are slowly increasing on the island in the last few years.
More information: Threatened Species
The Crested Tern is the second largest of the terns found in Australia and one of the most commonly seen species. It measures 49 cm in length and has a pale yellow bill, scruffy black crest, grey wings and back, and a white neck and underparts. Although it is often observed on its own, the Crested Tern also frequently forms mixed flocks with other species. Most common calls are a raspy 'kirrick' or 'krrow'. More information: Birdlife
Muttonbirds (Shearwater) The Wedge-tailed Shearwater is the largest of the tropical shearwaters.
There are two colour morphs of the species, dark and pale; the pale morphs predominate in the North Pacific, the dark morph elsewhere. However, both morphs exist in all populations, and bear no relation to sex or breeding condition. The pale morph has grey-brown plumage on the back, head and upper wing, and whiter plumage below. The darker morph has the same dark grey-brown plumage over the whole body.
The species' common name is derived from the large wedge-shaped tail, which may help the species glide. The bill is dark and legs are flesh coloured, with the legs set far back on the body (in common with the other shearwaters) as an adaptation for swimming. More information: Wikipedia
Silver Gulls (Seagulls) The Silver Gull has a white head, tail and underparts, with a light grey back and black-tipped wings. In adult birds the bill, legs and eye-ring are bright orange-red, it is about 40-42cm.
Young Silver Gulls have rows of brown speckles on their wings and dark tips on tail feathers. Their legs and bills are black.
The bird breed season lasts from approximately August to March, with the seagulls in vast numbers compared to the terns and muttonbirds.
Burton's Legless Lizard The body is long and snake like, hindlimbs are more like a single scale and the forelimbs are lacking. The body colour varies from cream to grey to brown and occasionally black, sometimes stripes or spots are present. The snout is long and wedge-shaped, tail cylindrical.
The Solitary Islands Marine Park surrounds South Solitary Island. Researchers have identified over 550 species of reef fish, 90 species of hard coral and 600 species of molluscs (shelled animals) in the marine park. The marine park also supports a range of threatened and protected species such as the grey nurse shark, black cod, turtles, whales, shore birds and rare marine algae.
Humpback Whales can grow to 16 m in length. They have a stocky body with a broad rounded head, a small dorsal fin and extremely long flippers, which can measure up to one -third of the animal's total length. There is a noticeable rounded projection near the tip of the lower jaw and a series of knobbly protuberances on the head, jaws and flippers.
The back and sides of the body are black as is the uderside, though it is more usual for the belly to have some white on it. The flippers and underside in some of the tail-flukes are usually mostly white. Humpback whales are able to make spectacular leaps clear of water and also sometimes swim on their sides with one long flipper held out of the water. The whales migrate past the island from May to September. More information: NPWS
Grey Nurse Shark The Grey Nurse Shark (Carcharias taurus) also known as the sand tiger shark or spotted ragged-tooth shark, is one of four species belonging to the family Odontaspididae. The species has a large, rather stout body and is coloured grey to grey-brown dorsally, with a paler off white under belly.
Reddish or brownish spots may occur on the caudal fin and posterior half of the body, particularly in juveniles. The species has a conical snout, long awl-like teeth in both jaws (with single lateral cusplets), similarly sized first and second dorsal fin and an asymmetrical caudal fin. Grey nurse sharks grow to at least 360 cm total length.
The grey nurse shark is a slow but strong swimmer and is generally more active at night. More information: Marine Species Conservation
Green Turtle A large sea-turtle that grows up to 1 m in length. Its heart-shaped shell is olive-green, brown and black, and the scales on the side of the face and limbs have distinctive pale edges.
More information: Threatened Species
There are no snakes, but the island abounds in centipedes, which were brought there during the building of the lighthouse and cannot be eradicated. Read Jim Garbutt's story about centipedes.
The centipedes were particularly active at night, dropping down from the ceilings. The legs of the beds were placed in old tins containing water to stop the centipedes crawling up the bedposts.
Some residents had pieces of fur tied around the posts of the beds to prevent the centipedes getting to them. Several lightkeepers and members of their families have been bitten, but apart from causing a little discomfort they are not dangerous. Known to grow to 30cm.
No rabbits survive, while goats and dogs are no longer on the Island, following the automation of the Lighthouse in 1975.
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