On 29 January 2011, the GTCP hosted a 6 person group from PCYC Carnarvon for the duration of a week-end. The group comprising of 3 local teenagers with their supervisors arrived the day following the strong winds associated with Cyclone Bianca which passed offshore.
Members of the group accompanied GTCP researchers during track monitoring efforts on one of the mornings of their stay at Gnaraloo. Unfortunately they did not see any tracks on those days, however we witnessed significant sand movements and erosion which occurred due to unusually high tidal and wave action produced by the strong winds of Cyclone Bianca. The beach profile had changed immensely as a result of this and sand cliffs up to 5m high were created, particularly in the northern sector of the rookery. This resulted in the loss of many turtle nests over the entire study area, with egg clutches washed-out to sea and dead hatchlings at various developmental stages strewn on the beach.
Despite this, the PCYC group found their excursion informative, helped with data collection in relation to eroded nests and saw a turtle and manta rays during the patrol. They also learnt new facts about turtles, their behaviour and the need for protection efforts.
Since then, GTCP researchers have observed that the steep sand cliffs mentioned above have resulted in subsequent turtle activity being restricted to non-nesting emergences, as the females are unable to climb the cliffs and find suitable nesting areas.
Check up on our field notes again to see how the nesting season evolves.