World Environment Day got off to a flying start last week with more than 70 Broulee Public School kids learning about the connection between grey-headed flying foxes and keeping the atmosphere clean of pollutants.
The Year 4 students spent several hours at the Batemans Bay Water Gardens on Wednesday, June 5, with Eurobodalla Shire Council's natural resource officers observing the colony of flying foxes and learning about their behaviour.
Council's flying fox officer Natalie Foster said the children used a spotting scope and binoculars to view the bats up close.
"The kids took a walk around the water gardens where one of the shire's five known flying fox camps is located," she said.
"It seems the kids think the bats are super cute but also a bit noisy."
After touring the water garden the kids learnt about flying fox history and behaviour. Ms Foster said the bats were regular visitors in Eurobodalla, generally arriving in spring or early summer to raise young, before heading north to warmer areas in winter.
"Flying foxes have been in Australia for about 50 million years," she said.
"Sadly they are on the decline now, particularly the last 200 years where numbers have dropped dramatically, mostly due to habitat loss.
"Flying foxes are necessary to the ecological health of Australian forests.
"Through pollination and seed dispersal they keep our trees reproducing. And it is our trees which keep the air clear of pollutants."
Ms Foster encouraged the broader community to visit the Batemans Bay Water Gardens and observe the flying foxes, but recommended minimising disturbance by keeping noise down and taking binoculars.
To organise a school excursion, educational visit or help with teaching resources on the grey-headed flying fox or other Australian bats, contact Natalie Foster on 4474 1000 or email@example.com.
Batemans Bay Water Gardens covers an area of 5 hectares, 70 per cent of which is a natural wetland inhabited by many varieties of water birds. There are gravel pathways that lead onto two boardwalks over the wetlands.