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Green turtle at Gnaraloo

Gnaraloo Cape Farquhar Rookery Survey

We’re sad to say that Gnaraloo Cape Farquhar Rookery (GCFR) surveys have concluded for the GTCP season 2014/15.

This year, GCFR surveys were conducted slightly different from previous GTCP seasons. Formerly, four days on four seperate occasions (16 days total) spanning the nesting season were surveyed. This season, we surveyed for two weeks during peak nesting time.

Surveys began on 27 December and wrapped up on 9 January. The two weeks flew by with only a few minor setbacks – one flat tyre on the twelfth day of survey, the development of some questionable rattling coming from the turtle wagon, and nearly being driven insane by the outrageous number of flies accosting our face on every survey.

Flies at Gnaraloo
Mel succumbs to the flies of Farquhar

Overall, we consider ourselves quite lucky reflecting on some of the events detailed in previous GTCP season’s Field Diaries of their Farquhar excursions. We were well prepared, and half expected, to encounter many more complications. Nevertheless, in the end, it was such a treat to get up to GCFR.

Each day we began our survey at Gnaraloo Farquhar Runway, a limestone outcrop that cuts into the sea, running parallel to the shoreline. On occasion, we were fortunate to find a manta ray (Manta birostris) relaxing in the protected waters inside the Runway.

The pristine beauty of the coastline is hard to match. From the white sandy shore you can see dark patches of fringing reef dotting the clear, turquoise shallows of the Indian Ocean.

Pied cormorants - Ningaloo Reef
Pied cormorants

Each day after Survey, if the wind was down, we’d take advantage of our time there and head down to Glover’s Bay, just south of our survey site, for a snorkel. Upon arrival, shorebirds, including pied cormorants (Phalacrocorax varius), terns (Sternidae) and sanderlings (Calidris alba) would be gathered on the point.

Once in the water, the world below the surface did not disappoint. Brightly colored fish of all shapes and sizes scurried through the corals as we worked our way through its labyrinth. Some were even lucky enough to spot loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green (Chelonia mydas) turtles. Some puffer fish (Tetraodontidae), a black tip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) and a bluespotted ray (Neotrygon kuhlii) were among other delights.

Gnaraloo underwater world
Fringing reef at Glover’s Bay

The GCFR saw a total of 59 nesting activities over the two weeks surveyed, which resulted in 34 nests. All activities were determined to be loggerheads. We’re anxious to see how this compares to Gnaraloo Bay Rookery and to previous season’s results in our investigation of GCFR as a significant loggerhead rookery.

Green turtle
Andy spots a green!


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