Aquila 2017 has commenced.
Final Results for Aquila 2016
We have found 10 extra vines over those found observers in the chopper. Well done!
This years Aquila with the new camera and higher resolution images has been a total success with a 1000 percent increase in quicker and more accurate marking of images.
Team Aquila with the higher resolution of 29megapixel images detected vines at a rate 700 percent better than last year using 12 megapixel images.
27 August – Aquila 2016 is now complete
The images have been searched and the final images checked and rechecked. 8 vines have been found. This is a tremendous result from our new higher resolution images and of course our now veteran Team Aquila. 8 vines when Australia’s most experienced chopper team found 15 vines is a 53% increase in detection! Of course Team Aquila found those the chopper vines as well. Not bad our team siting in lounge chairs at home. Well done everyone and specially to our core group who did most of the heavy lifting. You know who you are. Thank you.
July 21 – Our first Search Bee completed 7000 images and now we are 28 percent through the images. Well done everyone.
Our Team Chat is now available.
Finally the 2016 Aquila search has commenced.
May 3rd – Images sent for processing
2016 Astro and Aquila imagery Capture Complete
We are now waiting on image processing and then the images will be available for search.
Spending a lovely morning relaxing on a tranquil billabong, allowed me to feel the beauty of the Kimberley again, free of thoughts of choppers, rubber vine and new cameras. The tranquility was broken with a phone call that my Dad died suddenly last night. He was of a good age and his health was such that he was looking forward to being at peace with mum. So we will finish tomorrow’s flying and then I will away to spend time with family to return when I can to finish our important aerial search. I will resume daily updates when we resume. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.
Done and dusted with two vines found at the fringes of two large core areas which had previously been mapped and dealt with. They eluded us previously but they are gone now. Now for a day off for a compulsory break after 6 days straight.
Another great zero day and we are expecting very small numbers at the end of the mission, meaning rubber vine is well and truly on the ropes.
Today Laa Laa joined Po in the chopper but unfortunately her enthusiasm got the better of her and she was air sick.
Another fantastic zero day. Last year at this time we found 46 vines. This year 12!
Team Aquila and our Friends of the Fitzroy know last year s mascot was a gnome who somehow found itself in many of our images. And as Brian Barker, who won the Rubber Vine Gnome Award for finding the first vine in the images, has also informed us “He has let it be known that he wants no further camera scrutiny of his behaviour so time to move on to Teletubbies.” So this year our mascot are Teletubbies. Quite fitting really as the Teletubbies accompanied Mick Everett our Forward Observer, when rubber vine was first found at Willare in 2005. Laa Laa hasn’t been in the chopper as yet but here is Po doing some searching today.
Day 3 in the office (chopper)
Well what a day, the boys arrived in the R44 a little early for a flying start at about 7 am with just enough good light for the new camera. I had just sorted out how to copy each day’s images quickly enough so the job was done before I woke in the morning. Each day’s 240 gigabytes of image data still takes 9 hours to transfer. After sorted all that out, I had the first opportunity to view the images we captured. The new images are a dramatic improvement of our now retired trusty and powerful 12 megapixel Gopro. You will see the results when we post the images for you to search.
Today we found 4 vines, half of what we found last year in the same area. This is an area we call Twin Towers, because of the two very large vines which parented tens of thousands of vines and was a mass of vines.
Finally, Erin Parke and crew from Broome ABC TV, filmed a story on the Aquila Project. We will try to post a link to the story when it airs. Thanks to Erin and the ABC, who has been great supporters of bringing our story to air. Here is Erin’s last story, which went to air last year on ABC Landline, Weeding Out. http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2015/s4267598.htm
New Camera for Aquila
New 29 megapixel camera gear almost ready to go and planning to start our chopper search and image capture on Monday 7th March. The new camera will mean we can zoom in much closer on the images so any rubber vine flowers will be much easier to spot.
Aquila 2016 about to start
Very soon we will start the annual aerial search for rubber vine in the chopper and search 265 square kilometres of the Rubber Vine Infestation Area at Willare in the West Kimberley of Northern Australia. We will capture images of the entire area with a commercial 29 megapixel camera and use software to detect white flowers of breeding rubber vine and post those images on this website for you to search. Last year Team Aquila, our internet search volunteers, found 7 important vines the chopper observers missed, so join us again to help us search for rubber vine from your computer in the comfort of your own home. We will let you know when we are ready to start.
Final result for Team Aquila at the completion of the project
All up 7 vines found and 117 seed pods removed and over a hundred thousand seeds prevented from being released. Well done all concerned and especially Team Aquila. Bravo and see you again when we ask you to help us with the next project.
Score Remains the same – Aquila 6 Rubber Vine Nil
Today we visited 12 Aquila Targets chopper and happily confirmed no more rubber vine. What we did find were lots of passiflora, or a local passion fruit vine. The flowers are identical to the passion fruit we know, and has a slightly smaller flower than a rubber vine and with a more fuzzy appearance. This results in these flower targets in our images being a little more indistinct than rubber vine flowers. We have learned a tremendous amount over the last few days and will be better able to eliminate more images from the ground search in the future.
Quite amazing really that Team Aquila is able to find these little fuzzy flowers in so much imagery. Outstanding work. If we find these little flowers them I am sure we haven’t missed any real rubber vine.
To see an image of a passiflora flower click here https://toptropicals.com/pics/garden/m1/EleNZ/Passiflora_foetida010el.jpg
Aquila 6 Rubber Vine Nil
Today we visited 14 Aquila Targets and confirmed 2 vines, a fantastic result. Remember we took one image every half second or about one image every ten metres. 350,000 images or 4 million segments of images, only 47 were assessed as worthy to actually go out into the bush and check, and so far from 28 targets we only have 6 vines. This confirms our view there are few vines left in 265 square kilometres AND Aquila has missed few if any.
Below a photo of Dougie and Kelvin with one of today’s vines.
Tomorrow in the chopper to visit 11 targets we can only get to air.
Aquila 4 – Rubber Vine Zero
First day “Ground Truthing” the Aquila targets found Team Aquila. Today, Team Rubber Vine attended to 14 Aquila Targets, which were a mixture of both Possibles and Definites. We confirmed 4 vines, proving beyond doubt, that the Aquila Project is one of the most successful Remote Sensing and Internet Volunteer projects. Well done Team Aquila and stay tuned for tomorrows results.
Kelvin and Dougie, about to pull down the last Aquila vine found today
And this year’s recipient for the Rubber Vine Gnome Award is …
Brian Barker from Queensland proudly holding the Gnome Award. Well done Brian! We look forward to your contribution and everyone’s search skills for the next project. Brian,” Fitzy, has a happy home.”
Rubber Vine Gnome Award – Aquila 2015
We can finally unveil the Rubber Vine Gnome Award – Aquila 2015
We are in the process of contacting the team member who marked the image as “Vine here” in the Primary Search resulting in the first vine found Aquila. Blame Mick Everett for all this.
Well even Mr Rubber Vine makes mistakes. When we geo-referenced this image, so we can plot it on the map, I misread the time-stamp and because I was 2 hours out, The image was located in the wrong spot, hence we thought it was a new vine, but in fact we saw it during the Astro Mission. Great that our chopper observers didn’t miss it. Consolation prize, we are part way through the final work on the images and I can tell you, Team Aquila will be very pleased with the results when we announce them. Stay tuned.
Second Aquila Vine Found
We can confirm the second Aquila Vine has been found in the images. We have not yet been to the site but the imagery is so clear we have found either two sections of one large vine or there are two vines about 10 metres apart.
How did we miss it during the Astro Search?
These are the rambling thoughts of the two rubber vine spotters who missed it.
Mr Rubber Vine. “ Mick it was on your side”
Mick, “Yes but the flowers only opened up after the chopper went past”
Mr Rubber Vine, “So how come the flowers were visible before the chopper got there? Doesn’t matter Mick I know, as their genocide is almost complete they are evolving and getting smarter and closing up their flowers when they sense the chopper coming”
Mick, “ Year that’s it, I now feel better”
For the record, Mr Rubber Vine missed the first Aquila Vine.
Tertiary Search completed in-house team
The project started with 4 million images segments. Software reduced that to 137,000. Team Aquila reduced that to 4,500 and now the in-house team has reduced those to 1257 images. With the 1000 images of known rubber vine from the Astro Mission removed, we now have only 257 images left. To go from 4 million to 257 is an incredible effort all. Stay tuned for further progress.
Team Aquila Search Officially Complete
Well team, your part of the search is officially complete. The in-house team will now view all the Possible and Vine here images to come to the final images which will guide us in the field. We will continue to keep everyone informed of our progress with the last part of the search and the work on the ground. We will also let everyone know when we have new search projects where we need Team Aquila to search images for other plants.
We can only say a very heart felt thank you to every member of Team Aquila for making this all possible.
Big thanks from Mr Rubber Vine and all the members of the aerial team, Team Astro and the ground team, Team Rubber Vine and our program partners and rubber vine committee.
Images Search to Finish on Sunday Night
Ok Team Aquila, we are going to finish the search on Sunday night. This will be when we have got 66% Search Progress, meaning we will have searched through the initial marked images twice. We need to finish a little early as we need to process the results and make final decisions on targets to search out on the ground during our next ground mission in August.
Minister for Agriculture Visit
Unfortunately the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Ken Baston is not able visit our Aquila vine. He can only give us 30 minutes in Broome and our vine is 2 hours away in the infestation area at Willare. Our team is very disappointed but we know politicians are very busy people and we look forward to him possibly , making time for us on another occasion.
Those gnomes are at it again, or is it Mick Everett.
Rubber Vine Gnome Award
The rubber vine found Aquila, confirmed as a real vine after locating it on the ground yesterday. It was a a healthy vine with 16 seed pods and 6 seedlings associated with it. We have left it alive as we have invited the Minister for Agriculture and Food, the Hon. Ken Baston to a site visit and to inspect the vine and ask him to kill the vine for us.
When I get back from the river I will check the image search data and see who it was who first marked the image as Vine here. They will be receiving in the post or if not too far away, in-person, the first Aquila award, the auspicious Rubber Vine Gnome.
“The job seemed to suit us. we are giving back to the bush instead of taking all the time and we’ve had good luck fishing ever since”. Dougie, our toughest member Team Rubber Vine on Landline promo.
Watch the full program next Sunday July 5.
Check promo at 55.45 minutes http://www.iview.abc.net.au/programs/landline/NC1532Q022S00…
ABC Landline Rubber Vine Story
The Rubber Vine Story on Landline is now going to be shown on Sunday July 5, a week later than originally announced.
We now have live progress update for the secondary search on the Search Progress page. We will continue the secondary search till each of the marked images in the primary search are reviewed the team 3 times. This will provide the best data for us in the back office to make decisions as to, which images have the greatest certainty of having a vine and then going out in the bush to check.
We have just now, visual inspection of images, confirmed that Aquila has found its first large flowering rubber vine. One of our team, marked the image in the primary search and it was spotted again during the secondary search. A check of the source images clearly shows a rubber vine in the previous and later images. The image has been geo-referenced and is located 900 metres from a major core area and only 80 metres outside our ground search area. We will let everyone know more about the vine once we do a ground visit and demise it. This one vine proves the Aquila methodology and when we actually get into investigating the final results we will learn more.
Secondary Search now Underway
The Image Search Portal is re-set and is ready for the Team to search through the images we marked as Vine and Possibles during the Primary Search. The aim is to reduce as many of the images as possible to have a smaller number for Team Rubber Vine, our ground team, to go out and destroy them.
Primary Image Search Complete
Congratulations and thanks to all members of Team Aquila. We have officially finished the Primary Search of the full set of images.
We are now resetting the Image Portal to commence a new search of the images, which Team Aquila marked as Vine here or Possible vine here. We will send an email when we are ready to start the new search.
Funding in the bag
Amazingly, no sooner than we indicate we need funding and finding endangered species helps us secure that funding, that Mick Everett finds the most endangered and highly prized species in the Kimberley, the Gouldian Finch, in the Aquila Images. Can you believe it!
I don’t know what is going on but it seems that as we draw near to the end of the primary search of the images there are those who are spotting more and more incredible things. Some of the finds may indeed help us to secure more funding for the program into the future. Debs, one of our stalwart members of Team Aquila spotted the first Kimberley Koala, and possibly a new species so not only are we saving the Fitzroy for all of us we now need to save it for this very rare creature.
As we are approaching the last of the images Mick Everett seems to be seeing more gnomes. Is he the only one who finds them?
ABC Landline Program
The Rubber Vine Program and bAquila Project will be featured on ABC Landline on the 28th June with a shorter spot on ABC News. This will be a chance to see Team Rubber Vine, our ground team in action.
Last Day of June 2015 Ground Mission
We finally finished 16 days straight and our mission is over. We set out to visit every Return Site and mop up any remaining rubber vine. So for the Tally
984 Sites Eradicated
139 Sites still marked as Active with all readily visible vines destroyed
24 Isolated vines found, outside the expected radius of Return Sites
5350 Vines destroyed
2 Tyres punctured
1 Fuel tank speared with star picket
Not one gnome spotted
We can say with confidence that the majority of Active Return Sites will not have any plants in situ on the next re-visit and any that do will be mopped up and marked Eradicated next time. We are also confident that apart from possible vines remaining in the Active Sites, there are fewer than 200 individual isolated plants left in the system. These are the ones which we will depend on Astro and Aquila to find. Some may yet be too small to have flowers but over the next several years they will raise their heads (flowers) and we will spot them.
Today we visited the site of the infamous gnome. Here is a photo of Dougie with the same vine found Mick from the chopper during Astro 2015 and controlled at that time and found again Mick in the Aquila Images. Today the gnome was nowhere to be seen but maybe there is some resemblance with Dougie.
As we approach the last day of our June mission, it is apt to show this photo of Kelly and Dougie, about to do combat with a flowering RV
13 June 2015
Today, we finished the North West quadrant, with 16 Return Sites Eradicated and 11 remaining on the Active list.
Mick Everett, our most experienced RV spotter in the chopper and now on Aquila has found his first flowering RV and just check out what he also found. If you run through the Project Photos you may be able to see the same RV from the ground with a gnome standing next to the vine.
12 June 2015
Chopper day, the most efficient way to get to 5 islands to get to our Return Sites. One site we had neglected after controlling the breeder we found three years ago and had not controlled the offspring. Two hours and 850 adult vines later we cleared the site. Back early afternoon to do some camera testing for next years Aquila and then back into the field to deal with another 10 sites. Then we actually did some grid searching for the first time this mission ans it was just like being home. Grid searching is the bread and butter of what we do and it was great to walk through the bush with one aim in mind, spot the vine.
11 June 2015
29 Return Sites Eradicated and 17 sites cleared of vine but marked as Active. So far 1012 Return Sites have been attended to and three more days to finish.
10 June 2015
Big day getting to the last 27 Return Sites in the far South West of our infestation area. 18 sites Eradicated and 11 as Active. Our only drama was spearing the fuel tank with a star picket and losing all the fuel in the sub tank. Our mail tank was fine but could have been tricky having no fuel 30 Kms from home in very isolated country.
9 June 2015
Always a great day. Today we completed the Core Lush search cell. This was a major core discovered in October 2010. While having a short break on the banks of the river we were privileged to see the river flow for the first time at the start of the wet season. That euphoria was short lived as we walked into a nest of RV. The parent was aged at 13 years and we believe one seed flew 10 kms South from the original vine at Willare to start off this core. Since that time we have destroyed tens of thousands of vine in that cell. Today we marked 74 Return sites as Eradicated and 9 still Active. Like yesterday, many of the Active sites only contained one vine, but the possibility remained that other vines may be present and not reliably detectable so marked Active for now.
Tomorrow a big 4WD day all the way to Udialla Station and 14 kms of creeks and gullies to get to the last 21 Return Sites. Udialla is the Southern Boundary of the RV infestation area on the Broome side of the River. Once we have finished that we head way north. To Helmut’s Camp and the far Northern Boundary where RV ends. Sounds like Lord of the Rings.
8 June 2015
Firstly, I notice with a grin, discussion on “how to spot RV” on Team Chat is evolving to a very high level of understanding of spotting skills.
Today we completed the Search Cell we call Twin Towers, named so because of the two very large parent vines situated close together which collectively resulted in approximately 120 other breeding vines we know and many thousands of offspring. Twin Towers are most likely twins as we often see vines is pairs or small groups because their seed hairs catch together so stay together in flight.
We went to all 120 vines today and marked 110 as Eradicated and 10 still active. Some of the active site only had one or a few vines present but because the vines were still so small it is assessed that there may be others in situ, which may be smaller and making detection unreliable.
A big 4WD day. There were very few times that both sides of the car were not being scraped tree branches of the suspension getting a workout. Thanks to Kelvin, not too many more dents.
Apart from having an extremely skilled team that works as a precision team, meaning we deal with each Return Sites very efficiently, often Return Sites are no more than 40 metres apart. We also navigate very well creating the shortest route between multitudes of locations.
7 June 2015
Big day on Return Sites with 148 visited in the previously most dense RV area we call Coffee Rock. 139 sites Eradicated and only 9 still Active but posing no problems.
Yesterday we attended a very large rubber vine site we call Wayne Core. We first discovered this in 2011 with our original Team Rubber Vine member, Wayne Baddock, and yesterday we searched through the entire area and felt the strangest feeling that something was wrong. We have become so used to rubber vine over many years it felt so strange that there were none there. I guess we will have to get used to missing our alien plant.
6 June 2015
Another big 4WD day with about 15 kms driven through bush, tight spaces, pushed through branches and over the roughest terrain at slow speed to get to vines. We marked 31 Return Sites as Eradicated and cleared 11 Active sites. Some Active Sites could possibly be marked as Eradicated as we were certain we had cleared them but their was still a chance small plants could be still hiding in the spinifex. Better to play it safe. Miscalculated times today and how many vines there may have been in return sites, so we started walking at 7.15 am and did not get back to 4WD till 12 pm. Dougie was getting hungry to say the least. Once you are 3 kms from the 4WD there is no option but to keep going till you get back.
To this date we have destroyed 3050 vines, all but 16 were confined to Return Sites. This is why we are so confident that once we have completed this mission, very few vines will remain in the system, possibly less that 200. That is after controlling about 1,000,000 vines over that last 9 years.
We are well on target to control every Return Site this mission. We have so far marked 523 sites as Eradicated and 64 sites cleared and marked for follow up.
We have mobile coverage when in the bush and love checking on Aquila Search progress. Great knowing that both, Team RV and Team Aquila are working hard at the same time.
5 June 2015
It was an extreme 4WD day today. To get to our task area we had to do some extreme four wheel driving and because of Kelvin’s extreme skills we got through unharmed and Toyota intact.
Today, no Justins. No Justins because we did not find a breeder. We wiped out 63 Return Sites. We did kill lots of vines because we had not searched this area for two years. Nothing we found caused a risk to the impending eradication of RV, so a hard day of killing but a great day against the vine.
4 June 2015
Well a mixed day today. We visited 100 Return Sites and cleared all vines and marked 90 as Eradicated and 10 Active. We also found 7 Breeders. 3 Justins and 4 first timers. Of the breeders which seeded last year we removed 270 seedlings and 23 seed pods so no seed has hit the ground this year. The seed which was released last year appears to be contained to very small areas under the vine so little harm as been done those vines we missed last year. We will just have to visit the sites in a few years time to remove what remains. This is what we do.
3 June 2015
Let me introduce you to Justin. Justin is the name we give to breeding vines with pods, which we have got to in time to prevent them releasing seed. Well we found one justin time today. Unfortunately we also found two other breeders which released seed for the first time last year so we had a little work to mop up170 seedlings. Despite that we had a great day as we cleared 112 Return Sites of vine, with 101 marked as Eradicated and 11 remaining on the active list. As we have now returned to more than a quarter of the Return Sites, we are confident that once we complete the next 15 days, there will only be a very small number of vine left in the system and hopefully Team Aquila will help us find them. In fact the three breeding vines, we missed during the Astro Chopper Mission. We believe the camera “saw” them so we have a great test to see if Team Aquila spots them. We know you will.
2 June 2015
A great Birthday with 55 Return Sites marked as Eradicated. Average about the same with less than 2 vines cleared in every site. 8 Active Return sites cleared of all visible vines, 300 seedlings and a smaller number of juveniles. When we go back for a return visit there won’t be many left to kill.
1 June 2015
Day 3 on the ground. A total of 45 Return Sites marked as Eradicated, and same average of less than 2 plants removed at each site. We have also cleared 10 Active Return Sites of 200 Seedlings, 60 Adults and 70 juvenile vines. Next year we will see how many new plants have since appeared or how many we missed. The guys are tired as we either walked or serious 4WD for 60Km. Left at 6.30 am and home after 5. Early night to do it all over again, tomorrow and for the next 17 Days.
31 May 2015
Thanks to everyone for the best wishes for out ground operation. Another successful day where we marked 89 Return Sites as Eradicated. We removed an average of less than two plants from each site when originally many had several thousand. Many sites had no plants in situ, as we had cleared them in previous years. We removed nearly 300 seedlings from 6 Active Sites. Active Sites are those sites we detected this year during our Astro Mission and others we found in more recent years, where germination was still not complete and plants still too small to reliably detect. Even though we removed every plant we saw and we think we actually got them all, we do not mark them as Eradicated just yet.
Everyone on the ground, Kelly, Dougie and John, appreciate that each member of Team Aquila is doing their bit in searching through the vines. We look forward to getting back on the ground when we have processed all the images and we seek out on the ground the vines you find for us from the air.
30 May 2015
First ground search day of the season over. Kelvin and Dougie, local men who make up the rest of Team Rubber Vine say Hi to Team Aquila. A big day for all of us getting back in the groove. We walked to 46 Return Sites and marked them all as now eradicated after removing in total 77 vines, 40 adults and 37 juvenile plants. Even though we marked 37 plants as juvenile, they were in fact 2 to 3 years old so for us they are adults even though many were only 30 cms tall. We also checked on one breeding vine found Astro this year and removed 7 seedlings. We found one small, 13 year old adult plant, which was possibly the daughter of the original plant as it was not associated with any of our known breeders in the vicinity. It had a hard life and had not released any seed before we demised it. The large number of older plants indicates a plant population, which is in decline. A population can only be sustained if there are youngsters coming up to take the place of the elders. So the rubber vine infestation in the West Kimberley is well and truly in its last stages of existence. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
28 May 2015
Landed in Broome for West Kimberley Rubber Vine Steering Committee meeting then on the ground for 20 days searching the vine. Keep up the good work with the Aquila Search.
24 May 2015
Check new Daily Training Image
Created a link to Aquila Project photos and Videos on the Aquila Project page and a link to video of a rubber vine core on the Our Story page. If you would like to see anything specific just yell out on Team Chat or email.
22 May 2015
Hint for the week
Context, context, context.
Sometimes rubber vine flowers are very obvious and even those new to the game you can be confident, particularly when the shot is directly below the chopper. The more difficult images, where you see a small white target it is all about one thing, context. Look at the possible white flower. Are there other similar white marks around? Do they look like flowers or shiny leaves? Are there just too many shiny leaves around indicating it is not a flower but a leaf? Surrounding a white flower do you see foliage, which might be rubber vine leaves, which is a little different to further out foliage? Remember, with difficult images it is all about context.
Quote of the day
By debs on Team Chat. “de rubba vine she vill not vin ! “
PS from debs, ‘vile villainous vine with a flexible attitude I.E. Not fussy about what it kills….n vat is vinyl. Sorry debs, just had to post this.
21 May 2015
Today we added a new feature to the Search Page.
We have had a number of our team who had found some images very hard to make decisions about. So for those who are still learning the art of rubber vine spotting and gaining confidence we have installed a new menu button. Skip this image. This will serve a new image, which may be easier to tag. This way those who are still “getting their eye in” can self monitor and tend to search easier images and those who have more confidence and skill can tackle the harder ones. As everyone becomes more skilled, (remember to review the Training Images more often) this button will be used less and less.
I have also added a Daily Training Image. If anyone comes across an image which they think would be a good training image for the Team, then save it to your computer and email it to me. I will look at adding it to the Daily Training Page, which may not be every day.