Turtle tagging – take two

…with a girl named Michele who laughed so hard she was choking when a turtle slapped me across the face.

Turtle Tagging Take Two Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleI loved volunteering back when I lived in Townsville for Post Grad’s doing research, and I finally got my chance to do it again along the Sunshine Coast (with another girl named Michele) studying the migratory and feeding habits of sea turtle populations. She was also garnering information about how pollution is affecting their health. These trips not only feed the inner Marine Biologist in me, but also act as fodder for my imagination. The science fiction series I’m working on (LONERS) has one novel set on a water planet – lots of room to go wild with alien sea creatures! Not that there isn’t enough under our waves that doesn’t look alien enough 😉

The day started really early last weekend, I was up at 4am and met Michele at the dock for a 5am cast off. She had 10 beaches to visit. With the sun already reaching into the sky, it was warm – a sultry 25 degrees Celsius. Sea turtles usually nest between October and March each year with the peak of the season in Dec and Jan. So this is something I’m going to get to do a number of times in the coming months… I’ll update again on more turtle fun towards the end of Jan – hopefully with some pics this time – when I wrap up the entire experience.

My curse is alive and well. In typical form I ended up on my butt at least once on the trip. Slapped in the face by a sea turtle flipper when helping to attach a transmitter to a new subject. It left a bit of a mark, but luckily enough I can pass it off as sunburn. Michele, however thought it was the funniest thing she had seen and just about wretched over the side from laughter. Maybe I would have laughed too if my brain wasn’t still rattling.

We were also going to rendezvous with a couple of Flatbacks that also have satellite tracking devices – check their health and record data. Although we ended up only getting to 3 during the day, one of whom must have had a tangle with a shark sporting a scarred flipper.

I was happy to report that we didn’t come across any of our reptilian friends fouled with fishing line, netting or plastic pollution – although that is still a big problem. The sky remained clear the entire time, and the seas calm. Got to have a few short swims. But no time for playing about, even if the visibility was dive worthy!
For such a pale skinned ranga, I feel so at home on the ocean. My spleen for a permanent solution to sunburn!! I think I used an entire bottle of sunblock over the day and still ended up pink. Thankfully the next morning it had faded.

We got close to the HMAS Brisbane, a popular dive site in this area, reminding me that I should take a leisure dive and check it out some time. The pics I’ve seen of the site look amazing and supports a slew of marine life. Just think of all the marine flora and fauna! I was in geek girl heaven.

A large ray swam by and I had taken a few great shots… but technology ARGH! I was a little ticked off when I got home because my camera had some sort of glitch when I was recharging, and the footage I’d shot got deleted. At least I have memories J

The best bit was checking out some turtle clutch sizes. That means digging up some nests and counting eggs. I’m just about beside myself with excitement in hopes to be there when some hatch. Baby turtles are so cute!

Turtle Taggin take two Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

There are a lot of groups that love volunteers along the coast for tagging and recording data, so if this article sparks some sort of interest, do an internet search and you are bound to find something…

Catch you on the flip flop…

Head Under Water by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I could have been Ginger on my own version of Gilligan’s Island! …. by Casey Carlisle

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ImageBlue skies, calm azure seas, tucked into a life vest on a ship with eight hot guys… was I wrong to wish for a shipwreck?

And I’m not talking about a singles cruise, or a fishing trip with the boys. I had signed on for a couple of months as research assistant tagging turtles along the Far North Queensland coast on weekends, monitoring their migration patterns and population dispersal. Just shy of completing my Marine Biology degree, of which I was completely in awe of, having grown up in the CentralianDesert, so every attempt was given to volunteer for assisting the PhD students in their practical studies. I managed to participate in many, but this was, by far, my favourite.

Not only was there great eye candy, I could lavish in the warm coastal currents, scuba dive, and have said cuties help slather on yet another layer of sunscreen. The hard part – long hours, (about 22 hours on the vessel) and having to baby sit a couple of the lads with motion sickness (albeit brought on by the previous nights drinking game). We would catch and release continuously through the night as well, and what little sleep I did manage, was disturbed by farts, burps, coughs and groans of the men resting soundly: I had many thoughts of dropping them overboard just for some peace and quiet.

We found an alarming number of turtles garnished with plastic rubbish and a lurking Great White (maybe it was following the trail of vomit behind the boat?) There was also evidence of silt killing off a part of the coral and seagrass beds, kicked up from the shipping lane.  However the rest of the journey was filled with pristine waters and its coulourful inhabitants. It certainly raised my awareness in how our garbage is disposed and recycled, and the importance of environmental impact studies on industry.

It was a fantastic experience diving in waters with great visibility and contributing to a cause bigger than yourself. Meeting a group of socially aware and intelligent young men and actually having a constructive conversation without any awkwardness or need for a drink in one hand. I must have snapped at least 10 rolls of film (no digital

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camera back then) of the gorgeous ocean, above and below the waterline… and the hunky shipmates. So what started as a chance to hitch on a trawler and dive on reefs around our fair town for free on the weekends, and enhance my education, turned into an exercise in a global consciousness. I think I’ll trade in Gilligan’s Island for Captain Planet any day!

Save the turtles! Save our Oceans!

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.