Well this last week has been pretty eventful! On Thursday I moved out of my cousins house and into a flat share with one of the zoo keepers who specifically rents out her room for volunteers. It was kind of bittersweet as I really loved staying with my family out here but also being somewhere new will force me to get out and socialise a bit. Plus this new place is right on the sunshine coast so lots of beach visits lol!
Almost immediately after moving in I headed up the coast about 4hrs to a place called Bunderberg. This town is famous for its sugarcane fields and production but more appropriately for Bunderberg rum (the most commonly drunk rum and possibly spirit in Australia). However it wasnt the distillery I was looking to see. About 15 mins out of Bunderberg is the Mon Repos Conservation park. This is the site of the most prolific Loggerhead turtle rookery in the world. From Oct-Dec you stand a good chance of seeing returning females coming back to the same beach on which they were born 30 years ago to lay their own eggs. From Feb - Mar you can see the baby turtles hatching and running down to the sea. It was the later I was heading for.
Stopping in the town first to find a cheap hostel (rain storms were promised so I decided to give camping a rest for this weekend). The town looks really lovely (kind of 1950's kansas). I checked into a pretty s***ty hostel but thankfully had the entire dorm to myself - and um well a gecko that had somehow got stuck in there that would later disappear. Then out to Mon Repos. The hatching occurs at night to give the hatchlings the best shot at avoiding day time predators (with a survival rate of 1 in 1000 they need all the advantages they can get). The night started promisingly with the discovery of a Small Eyed snake right next to the reception area. Ha ha - this represents the most dangerous snake I have seen in the wild to date - and it only has one recorded death! I was assigned to my group which would be the last on the beach - and then settled in watching documentaries about turtles for the next 2 hours. Well this was interrupted by the discovery of a friendly possum and a green tree frog!
Then the big moment arrived and we were taken to watch as a clutch of 125 loggerheads errupted from the sand. There are 7 species of turtle that have survived since the time of the dinosaurs and of the 7 the loggerhead is one of the most threatened. All 7 are on the endangered list. Because of this the clutch were rounded up by researchers to document and check over before they would be released but I did get an opportunity to say hi to an Approx. 20 min old turtle!
I also learned a few things none of which as interesting as the following:
(1) Turtles hatch and scurry down to the sea. They are then not seen or heard from for about 17 years until they reach their juvenile age and start feeding in a specific area (which they remain loyal to their whole life). When they turn 30 they reach sexual maturity and mate several times. The female stores the sperm mixed up of several matings in her upper ovaries. She then heads back to the area in which she was hatched 30 yrs ago. Scientists have no idea the specifics of how they navigate up to 2000km back to their birth beaches but it is thought they use the earths magnetic fields - though no research has discovered how this is done specifically.
(2) Turtle have no vocalisation. It is not know how they communicate with other turtles (although in their entire life they only meet up to mate). So imagine this - Turtles are completely alone. They communicate with no other living animal from birth til death! How sad!!
After an eventful night I headed back to grotsville to get some sleep!
The next day I headed out onto the Bunderberg coastline and was awestruck by how beautiful this was. I really have found a little corner of heaven here! Cane fields as far as the eye can see. Little villages with 1950s buildings and signs. Even the new is striking - they are building a new village called coral cove. This area alone the coast is an area of such natural beauty!
Back home now and about to cook some nice food!
Hope everyones weekend was fun too!