Cataloguing types of spider webs. Enlarge
Panasonic is spending some of the profits from all the Viera TVs and Lumix cameras we're buying in a socially responsible manner by taking up a scientific sponsorship with the Australian Museum.
The company has committed to providing equipment and financial support for its research into issues impacting Australia's ecosystems such as climate change, habitat loss and introduced pests.
One of the Australian Museum's projects to benefit from the relationship is the BugWise Web2Spider program, where Panasonic Toughbooks will help scientists in the field collect data on insects and spiders to help determine the health of the environment. Invertebrates play an important role in pollination, nutrient recycling and population control in natural ecosystems, and the team is developing a database of different web types that helps monitor which spider genera are present in an ecosystem. The BugWise program is also being used as an educational tool through schools and the National Parks Association.
Olympic swimmer Ky Hurst will be promoting the work of the research scientists at the Australian Museum. Enlarge
Lumix digital cameras with waterproof casings will also be used at the Australian Museum's Lizard Island Research Station in its work on barcoding the DNA of coral reef fish. The Barcode of Life project based there is part of a global program that aims to create a database of DNA barcodes of 500,000 species within five years. Underwater documentation is important, as marine specimens rapidly deteriorate and lose their shape and colour once they are taken out of the water. Underwater films taken will also be uploaded to the Australian Museum's website.
Although there were no movie stars or ex-reality show contestants at the function to announce the sponsorship, Ky Hurst, a Panasonic Ambassador and member of the Australian Olympic team was on hand to lend celebrity cred. Hurst, a winner of seven Australian ironman titles, will be competing in the 10km Open Water swimming event at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The dedicated ocean swimmer and surfer will be working with the Australian Museum to promote its research and the importance of sustaining our marine, reef, and coastal environment.
The sponsorship ties in with the new Surviving Australia exhibition at the museum that focuses on Australia's animal inhabitants and their adaptation over millions of years of changing climate and landscape. It is a permanent exhibition and is free with general Museum entry.