From November, the Mon Repos beach is the turtles in Queensland. They lay their eggs, which hatch between January and March. A stunning spectacle, if the offspring of sea turtles will nest. At nightfall, then gather at the Mon Repos beach near Bundaberg curious observers.
It is shortly found 18 clock, as the glowing red sun sinks into the sea. A few minutes later it's pitch black, only the moon glows faintly through the trees. Eerie silence. A few minutes later I get a little square and stood suddenly in the middle of the bustle. Small children, retired couples, backpackers - some 300 people cavort in front of the entrance to the Mon Repos Conservation Park Center on the East Coast. Every year you can here - near the town of Bundaberg - see turtles hatch. Between January and March, after dark, breaking the baby turtles on their eggshells and bury themselves to the surface. A spectacle that I did not want to miss.
After about five hours, all other groups are returned. I'm cold now pathetic - and then we finally turn. The bearded ranger with the tanned, wrinkled skin gives us a list of prohibitions on their way. Most importantly: no flash when taking pictures! He grabs a plastic basket and strode off. We after him trudging through the deep sand on the deserted beach. I listen to the soothing sounds of the surf. The dim light of two torches lit us the way. All are silent.
Tension is in the air
After a while, us, the ranger to stop and makes the basket on the floor. I see nothing but sand and sea. I look the young couple next to me questioningly, but it's like all the other me - nobody knows what's coming. And then he points to a hole in the ground. And indeed: Something moves. Out of nowhere appears only one flipper, then another and finally a head - as wide as a thumb nail with black pin-shaped eyes.
A miniature turtle, a little smaller than my palm, fights to the surface. The ranger takes her in his huge hands and acting puts them in the basket. Then he gently digs a hole in the ground. More and more baby turtles and eggs appear. One after the other is placed in the basket. "So that no one steps on it," said the ranger. "And to count," he added then.
Extinction: the sea turtle
Mon Repos Conservation Park Center is not primarily a tourist attraction but also serves the conservation. Worldwide, there are only seven species of sea turtles, and all are considered to be threatened. They often die in fishing nets or landing - despite the ban - a delicacy on the plate. The nesting and breeding places are threatened. On Mon Repos beach, especially the loggerhead turtle lays its eggs. The beach was therefore declared a nature reserve. Each egg is laid on this beach or slips are counted. Even those who are already dead in the nest. The aim behind this: keep an eye on the turtle population and protect.
Thrilled we stare at the 50 to 60 tiny bluish gray in the basket. They look rough and scaly, but also very fragile. And then bring our ranger two of the small armored animals from the basket and stretched towards me one. "Very carefully, which are still soft," he says, and puts me the turtle between thumb and forefinger. And indeed, the tank has a springiness and what looked like a rough exterior, feels now more like a cat's tongue. Kinda rough, dry and a little warm. They rowed with their fins - tirelessly like a bucket - every second through the air. Whether this is not exhaustive, someone asks for the round. "Yeah, but who can do that," explains the ranger. "The rowing until they reach the sea. The only way they can escape their predators. "
Knowledge at your fingertips
Even before they reach the sea, the baby turtles are prized delicacies. Especially birds are after the baby turtles. In the sea then wait for the next danger. Only every thousandth turtle all reached the age where she lays eggs. Once they are sexually mature between 20 and 30 years, as scientists suspect they lay up to 200 eggs per nest. Inconceivable that these lads will take a sometime meters long and up to 110 pounds.
The mini turtles migrate from one hand to another. Everyone wants to feel even on the delicate shell. Because a flash twitches through the night. "Not with a flash I said," the ranger rumbles annoyed. "Turtles have very sensitive eyes." Because their instinct dictates the young, the little they have hatched to crawl to where it is the brightest. At dark, the beach is always the water's edge.
Race to the Sea
Then comes the final. We line up at all, absolutely quiet. Our ranger lifts the turtle out of the basket, and already the race begins to sea. Tiny they act on the endless sandy beach. Bravely she robben, flippers to finning, forward. In the soft sand, leaving each minute traces. All together, they paint one, almost five meters long and one meter wide determined, image of dots and dashes in the sand. I am surprised at how quickly and accurately each of the little ones is the water's edge. One after the other runs to the sea, where they are swallowed by the dark waves with their white foam.
They begin their journey through the big wide ocean and only a fraction of them will come back to precisely lay their eggs on this beach. The cool sea air blowing around me bare legs and I have numerous small, red mosquito bites that itch terribly. It's after twelve. And yet: The wait was worth it. Because I was able to witness the beginning of their journey. "Good luck on your journey -. Their turtles"