Day 214, Year 2: Turtle Tracks
Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Weather: Another Beautiful Australian Spring Day
Location: Bundaberg Port Marina, Australia
The short story is that we didn’t see any turtles last night. Four turtles came ashore, but three returned to sea without laying eggs. Only one Flatback, found only in Australia, stayed ashore and layed her eggs. The first group of onlookers got to go view the nesting session, but groups two and three were without a turtle to watch. We were in Group 2. The Conservation Center at Mon Repos has turtle watching down to a science. Since a night many years ago when there were 2,700 people on the
beach all at once tryting to watch the turtles nesting, the rangers knew they had to do something to organize the watching or all of the turtles would be scared away. Dr. Col Limpus heads the research group here and has been at Mon Repos since he was a young man. He wanted to find a way to let people enjoy the turtles but keep the experience one that the turtles could deal with. They now have rangers that scout the beach each night. Once a turtle has made her way up the beach and dug the hole
where she will lay her eggs, the rangers come get a group to watch. They let groups of 40-60 people walk to the beach with a ranger in front and another in back–no lights, no cameras, until the rangers say it is safe to use these these items. The people are positioned behind the turtle, and once she has started laying eggs, she is oblivious to the people and the light. The group is allowed to stay while she lays her 150 to 200 or so eggs and then starts her trek back to the water. If the turtle
has chosen a place to lay her eggs that might be disturbed by high tidal waters, the rangers take the eggs out of the hole immediately and let the onlookers help carry the eggs to a safer location. If this is done within two hours after the eggs are laid, there is no harm to the embryo. The moving of the eggs to a safer location has resulted in a much greater percentage of eggs that are hatched here. Ranger John Meech was the spokesman last night, and after five hours of waiting, we were invited
to do a midnight sweep of the beach with him. He explained that we probably wouldn’t see any turtles, but it was a beautiful night for a midnight walk on the beach under a full moon. All we got to see were the turtle tracks from the Flatback that had laid her eggs earlier. So we will hope that when we return from the US, we will get to go back to Mon Repos and watch baby hatchlings head out to sea.
Today was another day of getting ready to leave–laundry, inside boat cleaning, cleaning and drying out the water tanks, replacing as many rusty hose clamps in the engine room ander under sinks as could be found, and on and on. I spent the better part of the morning on Skype talking to my brother and sister-in-law, my sister, and our son Justin. It was time to check in about details for next weekend in Charlotte. I guess the weather there was nice but has now gotten cool. Sure hope that turns
around fast. It was a beautiful day here today and I did the laundry by hand just because I wanted to be outside. And why pay for a dryer when the sun does a much better job? We had dinner aboard Ranger tonight. We are still eating that delicious fish Paul caught on the way in here. Tomorrow will be our last day here as we leave early Monday morning for Brisbane. It won’t be long before we are back in the states.