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New species discoveries, incredibly diverse creatures and plants, and close encounters with humpback whales were just some of the highlights for scientists and rangers who have just completed a major Bush Blitz expedition in the eastern tip of Victoria.

Bush Blitz is Australia’s largest species discovery program and is a partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities and Earthwatch.

More than 45 participants focused their efforts across land and sea within Croajingolong National Park near Mallacoota and across its coastal fringes to areas including Gabo Island.

The eight-day Bush Blitz recordings included more than 130 tiny crustacean species, some of which Museum Victoria believes will be entirely new to science.

Researchers also gained stunning and rare close-up underwater video and photographs of a humpback whale and her calf. Some participants stopped mid-ocean to let these unexpected visitors pass and were lucky to have a 20-minute close interaction when two of the whales approached them.

BHP Billiton employees worked as field assistants, joining teams from Museum Victoria, Parks Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens, University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales and the Entomological Society of Victoria. The laboratory work will now begin for the taxonomists to sort, identify and describe those species new to science.

The Bush Blitz took place from 8 November to 15 November.

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