Thursday, June 19, 2008

Seasonal Study - May 08

Sam Prisk, Billy Leis and myself have just returned from a few weeks up on the Cape. It was a good time to be on Cape York as we were one of the first groups to be up there for this season after the roads had reopened following the wet season. There were no tourists and we virtually had the whole place to ourselves. For Sam and Billy it was their first time in this part of the world and their first experience with sea turtles and crocodiles. Sam's first crocodile was a 1.5m freshie we spotlighted along a creek on the way up, whilst Billy's first experience was with a 6m+ monster attacking a turtle on the beach on the first night on Crab Island! Needless to say all crocs looked small after that encounter and Billy didn't sleep well for a couple of nights!
A main objective of the trip was to document nesting density for that period of the year. Nesting numbers of turtles were impressive with 20-30 turtles nesting each night. This period seems to be the beginning of a long build up to the peak of the season towards August. We also discovered significant olive ridley nesting marked by a nesting event a couple of nights prior to our arrival. Unfortunately, we also identfied 100% predation on nests by feral pigs and goannas on the mainland.
As well, we documented some interesting crocodile activity and added a number of new fauna species to the Crab Island list, including amethyst pythons, northern tree snakes, Australian bustards, yellow footed scrub fowls, just to name a few..
Once again, we met some amazing and friendly characters in and around Seisia, Bamaga and Injinoo who were always willing to provide advice and assistance, or invite us to the local social gatherings!

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