The Huon Turtle Survey

When I wrote the French Ministry of the Environment requestion permission to visit Huon Reef, I offered to assist in their turtle survey. Yesterday afternoon at high tide, along with “Wombat of Sydney”, we began the survey by drawing a line in the sand just above the high tide. This afternoon, we will count the number of turtle tracks that have crossed the line. Turtle tracks here are not dainty footprints in the sand. These are huge, lumbering creatures that are built to swim, not to walk on land. Late in the afternoon, the females drag themselves slowing up the beach leaving tracks that look like they were made by a tractor. They then find a place they like, and start digging. The hole they dig is 3 to 5 meters wide and at least 3 meters deep. They then lay 15 – 24 eggs, partially coverup the hole, and then leave. The beach area is littered with hundreds of these holes, one next to the other, so that they look like bomb craters.

Yesterday, Mike, Laura and I went swimming with the turtles at a place we call the “turtle swimming pool.” It is an area of shallow sand to to the west of a sandbar that is above water only at low tide. It is only 100 meters from where we are anchored. From the boat you can see a dozen or more turtle heading for the swimming pool around low tide. Many beach themselves, probably to warm up. Even at sea, green sea turles like to bask on the surface. Two sea turtles have become our favorites, and so we have named them. We named the girl turtle Kamakshi, but we call her Amou for short, and the boy sea turtle Adithya, who we call Adi for short. Pretty names for such beautiful creatures.


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