Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Green Turtles, Crocodiles and Ella Bay

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a new story but trust me I have had a few big fish to fry lately!

Today Ma:mu/Mandubarra traditional owner James Epong and I were fortunate enough to be invited to give a joint presentation on local turtle nesting to the Cassowary Coast Regional Council.

The star of the show was a turtle we called 108 as it was the 108th green turtle hatchling to make its dash for the ocean from a nest only metres away from the Ella Bay Road.

How do we know it was number 108 you ask?

Well a post hatch inspection/count was conducted on this nest and 108 turtles hatched from 109 eggs! Mama green turtle did a good job and myself and Ma:mu traditional owners paid nightly visits to this nest to ensure it was safe from harm. We believe it is a first for the area for a nest to be looked after and observed from laying until hatching by indigenous volunteers or by anyone for that matter!

More about this later!

Getting back to our Cassowary coast Regional Council I still have my issues with this council regarding their poor performance at Cowley Beach in relation to beach driving/damage and that has not changed.

I have recently received a report from DERM that was supplied to the council in which their principle coastal scientist made the following statement…

If you are not familiar with what is happening at Cowley beach a visit to the story titled “Cassowary Coast Regional Council’s mismanagement encourages dune damage at Cowley Beach” will give you an idea of what is happening at Cowley Beach.

That said I must acknowledge the councils willingness to listen to James and myself and we appreciate the hospitality that was extended by all!

Mayor Bill Shannon was very welcoming and showed great interest in the presentation and I must publicly thank him for this.

I would also like to give a special mention to councillor Bill Horsford who extended the invitation. With regards to matters at Cowley Beach Cr Horsford has displayed intelligence and integrity and has earned sincere respect from both myself and Cowley Beach’s traditional owners.

Now where was I something about crocodiles I believe!

Oh another thing before I forget …some interesting stuff coming up soon on cassowaries crossing the Ella Bay Road to access coastal food resources with photos and videos as hinted at in the story “Cassowary Scat/Tracks on the Beach in Front of Proposed Ella Bay Resort Complex/Urban Development”.

Ok Ok crocodiles was it?

Well back in my cassowary scat story. I commented at the end about my reluctance to swim across or wade around Barra Creek which of course flows out of the proponent’s property at Ella Bay. I thought I might share with you some recent crocodile track photos I took at this location on an 18 km kayak trip from Ella Bay to Bramston Beach.

If Ella Bay Pty Ltd ask nice enough I might give them the ok to use these images in their holiday promotional material but I think they will probably stick with the boat and deck chairs on the beach images that they are currently using.

People get a bit funny about sun baking next to estuarine crocodile tracks for some reason!

Hey perhaps the giant sting ray photos from the same area would be more tourist friendly?

No takers?…well don’t say I didn’t offer!

Cheers Russ


  1. oh what big feet you have Mr Crocodile! lol Nah, I can't imagine the property developers wanting to advertise that fact. ;) It might lose them a few dollars, and after all, that is what is important right??!!

    I am so impressed with your efforts Russell, on behalf of the precious wildlife that inhabits our beautiful area. It should not be so, that a nest should need to be so carefully guarded... but alas, the successful hatching of 108 baby turtles depended on it.

    They are so cute... I hope they all live to tell their story, and not be gobbled up by the crocodile or sharks or any such thing. They seem to have so much against them, just to survive.

    My husband has been seeing a cassowary on several occassions lately, down on his beach walks. I wonder how many (or how few) we have left in this area.


  2. Hi Amanda.
    I can't take all the credit as Traditional Owners are doing some great work and I would like to pay my special respects to all the Bagirgabara and Mandubarra sea country elders who have been so wise and helpful.

    I will have to post a you tube video of 108 dashing to the ocean as James captured this on film and he/she is cute as a button.

    We are very lucky in our region that our sea country traditional owners have displayed such wisdom in their policy making and they are great people to work with.
    If 108 is a girl we could be waiting 35 or 40 years for her to return to lay her first eggs and unfortunately a lot of bad things can happen in between now and then. That's why every nest is important and worth looking after.Fingers crossed for all those little turtles!
    Good to hear about the cassowary activity at the bay and please feel welcome to drop me an email with the details. I have been noticing a lot of cassowary activity near the beach lately and they have been feeding on beach almond,scaevola and white apple fruit.
    Thanks for your comments and encouragement Amanda!


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