Weather failed to get in the way of the women-and-wildlife themed carnival at Duck Lagoon on Sunday.
Organisers were on edge due to the wet and windy conditions, but the crowds arrived regardless for an afternoon and evening of music, conversation and learning at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Carnival.
The event was officially opened by 2021 Kangaroo Island Citizen of the Year, Madelyn Kelly of Parndana, who spoke of the losses in the bushfires.
Losses not only in her farm and livelihood, but also in the natural world she and her family live in and the silence and blackness after the fires.
The lack of bird song was particular poignant, given this year's festival was titled "Bird Song".
"I've never experienced silence like that," she said.
She said Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network had a team of about 60 dedicated volunteers that worked on protecting and rehabilitating wildlife.
Organiser Kate Welz at the opening paid tribute to Sarah Strong-Law and Cath Williams, as well as all her other helpers, for making the festival possible.
"It's such a special island, unique and precious and we need to keep it that way," she said. "Find out as much as you can about all the things happening here from the people who have boundless energy for protecting our wildlife."
Special guest, Australian access of international acclaim, Yael Stone spoke about her personal decision to leave Hollywood, give up her Green Card and move back to Australia to live a simpler, less impactful life, closer to her family.
Doing what you can in your own life, aligning your actions with your beliefs, making small changes was a liberating experience and freed you from cogitative dissonance, she said.
Perhaps best known for appearances in Orange Is the New Black series, she is currently working on a Warwick Thornton production in Adelaide.
Also speaking at the festival were two women scientists, involved in the monitoring of the KI's little penguins, Dr Diane Colombelli-Negrel from Flinders University and PhD student Sarah-Lena Reinhold from Adelaide University.
Tasmanian artist Jane Bamford, who is making ceramic penguin shelters also spoke and had her work on display in one of the Island's glamping teepees.
While artists Dale Trotter and Monica Askins from Morilla Community Services in Murray Bridge worked on a penguin mural with KI youth that will be placed at Emu Bay.
Penguin research ongoing
Research into the numbers and health of Kangaroo Island's little penguin population continues.
Dr Diane Colombelli-Negrel from Flinders University and PhD student Sarah-Lena Reinhold from Adelaide University spoke about their scientific efforts monitoring the species, whose numbers are declining around Australia.
Factors leading to their decline could include changing climate and its impact on the ocean environment including the penguins food sources, while the impact of predators was also changing.
It could be that penguin numbers had increased after predators such a seals were decimated by humans and now that seal numbers were increasing, the penguins were decreasing.
The scientists said the picture was complex but that the little penguins did need protections in a changing world.
Interestingly, the population at Emu Bay appears to be particularly robust and resilience.
The Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network had worked with the scientists and Tasmanian artist Jane Bamford to make ceramic penguin nesting modules.
Several had been placed at appropriate penguin habitat. around the Island, with one already occupied by two lovebirds.
She is also working on natural elements that can be placed in the artificial reefs being planned for KI by the local Landscape Board to attract native oysters and other marine life.
Another penguin related activity at Sunday's wildlife carnival was the transportable mural of the seabirds that will be placed at Emu Bay.
The mural was the creation eight local youths, overseen Murray Bridge aerosol artists Dale Trotter and Monica Askins.
The project was facilitated by the local headspace coordinator Julie Walter and the Emu Bay Progress Association and saw the youths get an aersol art lesson at Junction before the carnival.