This weekend the GTCP team will head up north to Exmouth for training in Western Australian turtle track monitoring and species identification protocols by the Department of Environment and Conservation, Exmouth (DEC). We’ll be trained by officers from the Ningaloo Turtle Program (NTP). This weekend’s training will help make us more confident in accurately identifying tracks and nests on the Gnaraloo beaches as well as the species of turtles which make them. Joining us for the training will be Stuart Dijkmans, our GIS support person in Carnarvon. Stuart will be participating with our monitoring surveys at Gnaraloo throughout the season to get some hands-on experience in environmental conservation and management.
We will also be giving 2 more turtle presentations at schools this week: tomorrow afternoon at East Carnarvon Primary School and on Friday morning at Carnarvon Senior High School before setting off for Exmouth.
We saw the first signs of turtle activity starting relatively early this year (on 2 November!), but still no actual sightings of a nesting turtle after a week of night monitoring. The goal of the night patrols is to double-check the accuracy of our morning survey data. The previous night, night monitors visually identify the species of turtle and see what she does; the following morning, day monitors then have to make the same conclusions based solely on their track interpretation; and the night and day results are then compared against each other that afternoon. If they match, we have one day of verified data, our goal being 10 consecutive days of verified data before being able to discontinue the night checks. In this way, we will confirm the accuracy of the morning survey work (for species identification and nest activity determination i.e. nests vs unsuccessful nesting attempts (UNAs), which are based on tracks only, not actual turtle sightings. However, no turtle sightings at night mean no verified data, at least not yet. Hopefully the turtles will be waiting for us when we get back from Exmouth on Monday.
Even off the beach, we’ve been quite busy here. Our first two community volunteers of the season joined our morning patrol on Monday (cheers Myles Dunford and Victor Bezard!), we’re making progress in obtaining upgraded GPS units that will improve our data set accuracy, we are about to launch a season-long nest tally count in several newspapers, and now have a Gnaraloo turtle song – the music and lyrics for this are coming soon.
And as always, please tell your friends and family to ‘like’ the GTCP Facebook page, and keep spreading the word about the Gnaraloo turtles.