There is not a dull moment for the GTCP Field Team in the month of December! On 5 December, our second school group of the month, Carnarvon Clontarf Academy, joined us for a Night Survey.
With the full moon bright and high in the sky, the boys took to the Gnaraloo Bay Rookery to seek out nesting turtles. The group of 12 students (aged 12 – 13 years) was split into two groups, one group led by Toby and the other by myself. Mel tagged along as well to help out with escorting the group to and from the beach.
They were definitely our most enthusiastic bunch yet and it would seem that their enthusiasm was rewarded. The first group, with Toby, was given a 15 minute head start from BP7. When the second group followed with me, it was only a few minutes before we came across a loggerhead sea turtle. She had only recently emerged from the ocean and probably narrowly missed by the first group.
Not to fret though, Toby’s group got their very own loggerhead just a few moments later. They caught her just in time to see her covering up her eggs with her rear flippers and had the opportunity to watch her camouflage her nest.
The second group patiently waited as their turtle made her way across the dune and took her time selecting her nesting site. Finally she began body pitting and the boys were anxious to see her depositing her eggs. The boys definitely gained an appreciation for the time and effort that is put into nesting by female sea turtles.
When it was finally time to approach, two students at a time went up to get a closer look. It was a disappointment that due to the turtle’s position on the dune they were not able to actually get a glimpse of the eggs. They all agreed that it was still a thrill to get to see the loggerhead turtle so close.
We were all so pleased to have Carnarvon Clontarf Academy out on survey with us and glad the turtles were co-operative and hopefully made their Gnaraloo experience a memorable one. Hopefully we will get the opportunity to visit the group off-site after the completion of on-ground field monitoring next year.