Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Preliminary Scoping Study

A Preliminary Scoping Study was undertaken with Queensland Parks and Wildlife in August 2007 to determine the logistical requirements of the project and whether, in fact, the study was feasible. The challenge of the project exists namely with the remoteness, accessing the island, the large numbers of turtles nesting along a relatively long stretch of beach and the presence of saltwater crocodiles.
Myself, Ian Bell and Kelsey Verrillo braved the dubious crossings of the Jardine River and channel from the mainland to the island, and the ferrying of gear and equipment. What greeted us was close to 1000 turtles over 5 days with 1/4 of these nesting during daylight hours. What we also found was a real pattern in nesting with turtles emerging to nest in "waves". The earlier afternoon/ evening high tides saw a wave of turtles in the south of the island, whilst the later mid tide saw most nesting occurring towards the north of the island. This in many ways makes the collection of data more managable as all turtles aren't ashore at once each night.
The pattern of nesting is intrigueing, as it can really vary from day to day - one night there will be over 250 turtles nesting and then the next night only 50. The variables determining these nesting patterns are unclear, and it will be interesting to investigate further.
Crab Island is a place which is hides many mysteries and will yield many new discoveries..

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