Animal Physiology - Heron Island

This is a 15 credit point subject, ZOO3HIF which is  run by the Department of Animal, Plant and Soil Sciences.

Field trip dates: Late November/early December

Duration: 10 days

Cost: The trip cost is approximately $1750 which covers:

  • return travel to Gladstone by chartered bus (5 star - video, rest-room and air-conditioned)
  • fast catamaran service to and from Heron Island
  • accommodation at Heron Island Research Station
  • all meals (catered)
  • plenty of time for snorkelling.

What you'll learn

You will investigate the structure and development of reefs, and the physiology of corals and other marine organisms. Topics include biomineralisation, osmotic and ionic regulation, and temperature and respiratory adaptations of littoral animals.

The physiological aspects of diving and adaptations to deep oceans are also covered. The course is run completely (lectures and practicals) at the Heron Island Research Station, Great Barrier Reef after end of year exams.

About Heron Island

Located 72 km northeast of Gladstone and 539 km north of Brisbane, Heron Island is a small coral cay which is part of the Great Barrier Reef. Comprising just 16.8 hectares and a mere 1.8 km in circumference the island is surrounded by reefs which can be explored during low tide. The coral cay is a natural laboratory for the student interested in zoology to gain some insight into the physiology of marine organisms while at the same appreciating the faunal diversity offered by coral reefs.

Biological calendar

Turtle egg laying begins. Bird life is extremely active. Wedge-tailed Shearwaters can be seen digging and repairing nesting burrows. It is the start of their breeding season. Black Noddies' eggs can be seen in the nest.

Enrolment quota

This course is only offered if sufficient students enrol - min 32, max 40.

***Enrolments for 2022 now closed***

This course runs at the end of the academic year for students enrolled in third year. Demand for places is high - acceptance is based on academic performance in second year Zoology. If the minimum quota is not met, then the field course will be opened to the student cohort who will be enrolling in third year for the following year.


Dr Travis Dutka