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The Adventure ....


ships log
Thursday 19th March 2008
Bundaberg, Queensland

Hello everyone,

Last night, we had a wonderful experience at the Mon Repos Conservation Park. This is a stretch of beachfront, about 1,5 km long, which happens to be a favourite place for Loggerhead turtles to come ashore for nesting. Its actually the largest turtle rookery in the South Pacific, managed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife, staffed by rangers and research boffins.

Shortly after dark, a very knowledgeable and clearly dedicated ranger took a group of us down onto the beach and a few metres back into the sand dunes; we formed a circle around a small mound of sand and waited. In the light of a single torch, we saw a slight movement in the sand, and then a tiny snout appeared, rapidly escalating to a mass of baby turtles energetically digging their way out of the nest right before our eyes.

The ranger and assistant collect and place them into a small pen while they take measurements and details for their records, then they let the little guys go, over 100 of them in this clutch, and they race for the water, as if their lives depended on getting there (which it does). Apparently only 1 in 1000 baby turtles will make it through to adulthood, and amazingly, the surviving females will come back to this same beach in around 30 years time to lay their eggs.

The use of flash photography and torchlight was restricted, as artificial light would hampers their trek to the sea as the hatchlings hone in on the horizon light over the ocean. Another reason why their journey to the sea needs to be as direct as possible is because they magnetically map their journey to the sea into their long term memory for the eventual return trip.

The hatchlings are amazingly strong and active we were instructed to hold out our hands palm up, and with the ranger holding the baby turtle slightly above our palms we could feel their powerful flippers in swimming mode.

It was truly wonderful to see these endangered turtles doing their instinctive survival of the species thing. The park is very well run and its also interesting to talk to the rangers, people dedicated to doing their very best to ensure this endangered species does not become extinct. The good news is that turtle numbers seem to be increasing, and we see adult turtles quite often when were sailing they are fascinating creatures.

Here's a link to some Queensland Enviromental Protection Agency video footage showing egg laying and hatchlings emerging from their nest.

Were in Bundaberg for a few days (getting the anchor chain re-galvanized), moored at the MidTown marina which is right in the centre of town, its great to step off the boat and walk into the CBD.

We got here after sailing up the inside of Fraser Island, which is always a favourite place for us its the largest sand island in the world ( I think ?) and renowned for its pristine beaches and spectacular scenery. Also renowned for the dingoes, one of which seemed very interested in our boat and posed nicely for the camera.

Yesterday we hired a car to do some sightseeing, (including the turtles). And today, we plan to go to the Rum distillery for a guided tour and sampling this could be a difficult mission wish us luck !

Cheers for now
B & G