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  • Writer's pictureMarnie Birch

Conserving an Urban Wildlife Haven

Bob Crudgington has made a name for himself in environmental circles. In fact, a species of crustacean, Picrocuma crudgingtoni (known as a Cumacean), is named after him.

His passion for the natural world led him to establish the Redcliffe Environmental Forum (REF Environmental) in 2006. Along with his role as REF president, Bob is a university teacher, former high-performance sports coach, and runs a multimedia business.

The REF objectives are to ‘rehabilitate, educate and facilitate’ the conservation of wildlife habitats in the Moreton Bay region, with an emphasis on the environmentally sensitive estuarine wetlands in and around Hays Inlet and Deception Bay.

“I grew up on the peninsula and spent many a day in and around the bay, mucking around with boats, fishing and generally exploring the coastline,” Bob says of his early years.

After graduating from university, he was involved in marine ecology before moving into sports coaching.

During his travels overseas, “I came to realise Moreton Bay is a unique asset - a wildlife haven so close to a major city,” he says.

According to Bob, “Moreton Bay is home to an estimated population of over 60,000 waterbirds, consisting of over 30,000 migratory waders, 59 waterbird species and 750 species of fish, including 27 species only found in these waters.”

Moreton Bay meets all nine Ramsar criteria for recognising it as an internationally significant wetlands site.

Over the last 19 years, Bob and the REF have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of environmental issues confronting this region, liaising with government and community groups. Dedicated REF volunteers regularly participate in bush care, tree plantings, educational events, marine turtle rescue, educational workshops and various citizen science projects, such as wildlife and water quality surveys.

“I grew up on the peninsula and spent many a day in and around the bay, mucking around with boats, fishing and generally exploring the coastline”.

The not-for-profit group recently celebrated World Migratory Bird Day with activities and guided walks along the Deception Bay foreshore. Participants spotted the newly arrived migratory birds, including a ‘bank’ of black swans, which Bob estimated to be over 150 individuals, and the Bar-tailed Godwit, an Alaskan bird with the longest non-stop flight: a distance of 29,000 km. Many learnt about the critical role of tidal flats and wetlands for wildlife and fish species.

Ongoing REF projects include monitoring key koala habitat, weed eradication and restoring buffer vegetation around Nathan Road Wetlands and Hays Inlet saltmarsh. An online REF community education project developed by Bob, called EnviroEd, allows the public to learn more about the unique flora and fauna of Moreton Bay.

Bob suggests coastal development, associated population increases, pollution, and stormwater runoff have all had an impact on the natural assets of Moreton Bay, but points out, “the mangroves in Moreton Bay are generally in good shape despite coastal development. Other wetland habitats, including saltmarsh and Casuarina, are in trouble, especially due to encroachment from urban and industrial development, stormwater runoff and climate change. Fortunately, there are still some great natural coastal areas, including the bay’s sand islands.”

REF Environmental meet at the Environmental Hub, 7 Joseph Crescent, Deception Bay. Membership is free, and new members are welcome. Visit for more information.


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