Thursday, 29 December 2011

Bundaberg: Cold Rock Ice Cream and relocating 137 Loggerhead Turtle eggs!

The place where Cook first landed, now called 1770.

At a roadhouse on the Bruce Highway, the owner enquired if we had any spare British money; I asked if she was visiting the UK soon. She said that she couldn’t travel, but had taken up the hobby of collecting overseas currency as a way of virtually visiting these countries. I grabbed a handful of my loose change from India, Nepal (yaks and rhinos on the notes), etc and she told me the story of how she was bitten by a white tip spider 3 years ago. She didn’t feel the bite, because the spider injects an enzyme to liquefy their prey. It had had the effect of rotting her ankle bone and cartilage from inside! Her doctor had suggested amputating her foot, but like lots of feisty Australians she had refused and tried alternative therapies which had improved her foot slowly. She thanked us for the cash with a family size pack of strawberry jelly frogs.

Tired turtled after laying 137 eggs and then having the energy to cover it up with sand.

At Baghara beach, just outside Bundaberg, we saw a shinny boulder above the lapping tide. Digs seeing the boulder was slowly moving, realised it was loggerhead turtle trying to make it's way onto the beach. Unfortuately a woman in a skimpy lilac bikini ran down and positioned herself next to it, for a kind of Hello! (on the beach with turtle) photo and it did a prompt U turn and headed back to sea.
Later, that evening we went to the next beach, Mon Repos, where there has been a turtle rockery under conservation for 40 years. Dr Col Limpus, an eminent turtologist (?) was there with some research students. We were called down to the beach around 9pm when 2 turtles had already come up onto the beach. We waited in the dark on beach for one turtle to progress further up the beach so as not to disturb her – their eye sight is similar to ours, but their hearing is not so good. 

We crouched around the back end of the turtle who had come back to her birth beach to nest. She was probably around 40 years old and had not been back since her birth. These turtles go down to Moreton Bay to feed and then have a little latino break in South America.

When our turtle had finished making the egg chamber, pausing for breathes along the way,(apparently they can fall asleep while doing it) she started popping out ping pong sized eggs .
Dr Limpus attached a new marker tag on her flipper as she poped out the eggs. Poor dear. Must be like having your ears pierced and giving birth at the same time. She wasn’t impressed and opened her beaky mouth into a F-word howl.

Dr Limpus' team dug a new egg chamber, a little higher up the beach, out of the way of a potential cyclones and we helped to move 137 eggs by hand. They will take around 8 weeks to hatch.
Only another 136 more eggs to relocate.

Like a ping pong ball, but squishy.

11th Birthday ice cream.

Bundaberg RSL. Quite liking the 50s vibe of this town.

A birthday isn't a birthday with a ride-on inflatable dino.

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