Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reflecting on 2008 - what a year!

It is nearly 2009 already! As I sit here in Toronto, Canada, and watch the snow fall outside it is hard to believe we were on Crab Island only a few weeks ago. It has been an amazing year full of new discoveries and amazing experiences after several trips to the island. I would have to write a book to list them all, but here are some:

o Witnessing and documenting, for the first time, crocodile predation on sea turtle hatchlings, and the previously unknown congregation of crocs on the island;

o Having the privilege to witness thousands of flatback turtles nest and hatchlings emerge;

o Having the unique experience of sharing an island with dozens of crocodiles, seeing their behaviours night after night;

o The times when we were literally surrounded by nesting turtles and hatchlings;

o Coming face-to-face with ‘Godzilla’, a massive 6m+ (18ft+) crocodile I had heard many stories about dating back to the 70’s and finally got to see him one night on the beach on Crab Island (with an adult sea turtle in his mouth);

o Successfully deploying satellite trackers and determining migration paths and feeding grounds of Crab island flatbacks for the first time;

o Tracking flatback turtles outside of Australia for the first time and identifying feeding grounds in Indonesia;

o Being able to collect remigration and renesting intervals for the first time;

o Being able to work with and enjoy the company of the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people of the area;

o Discovering significant Olive Ridley nesting in the area;

o Adding many new species to the Crab Island list, including many rare birds, frogs and several snakes;

o Seeing the seasonal changes on the island and the cycle of the wildlife, including migratory birds, tiger sharks, indo pacific humpback dolphins, and of course the sea turtles and crocodiles;

o Being able to spend quality time on Crab Island, getting to know and understand the natural rhythms and discovering it’s unique ecology;

Most importantly, the data we have collected is a step forward for effective conservation of the world's largest nesting population of flatback turtles.

Crab Island is certainly a wild and fascinating place… I can’t wait until we are back on beaches again next year!! In the meantime I am eagerly watching the migration patterns of our satellite tracked girls...