All good things must come to an end, and so we wrapped up our monitoring…
We have arrived! This season the Turtle team comprises of Andy Leach (GIS Guru), Toby Ekman (Technical Tyrant), Bailey Rankine (Data Diva), Ronan McGrath (Community Comrade), and her Majesty Melissa (as Program Assistant).
The Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program (GTCP) team met in Carnarvon on 20 October and started the epic journey to Gnaraloo Station, our home for the next six months. The first task was to pack the turtle mobile (Hilux) with all of our luggage, food, equipment and extras for the station! After four hours and two re-packing’s the team was off on their exciting journey. The three team members in the back became intimate very quickly despite meeting only a few hours previously.
On the way we stopped off at the blowholes to stretch our legs and take a quick photo. The blowholes are holes in the limestone rock which the sea forces water through with every wave, creating a spray that can be up to 10 metres high.
Upon arrival at the station we moved into our cabins (two per cabin), which include a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. The amenities are basic with a curtain covering the bathroom but the very pleasant surprise is the hot showers! Food for the next week and a half was bought while we were in Carnarvon; so each meal is planned carefully in advance and great care is taken to provide variety. As we eat through our food supply weird and wonderful dishes will definitely happen (groceries are collected during a town run that occurs every two, three or four weeks).
The training began on the first day, as Mel taught the team about general Gnaraloo activities, health & safety, and turtle track identification. This was followed by a session in the sand during our first visit to Gnaraloo Bay on Tuesday! We all perfected the art of making simultaneous and alternating turtle tracks in the sand. Paul Richardson (the Gnaraloo leaseholder) showed us around the station, including where to park the turtle wagon for surveys, how to get through gates, and showed us around the workshop (including seeing last season’s vehicle! We’re a very lucky team this year).
This week Mike Butcher arrives to teach us how to identify the tracks of foxes, cats and dogs; as well as goats, sheep, and native animals (such as kangaroos and hopping mice). Stay tuned for our next update!