Free reef snapshot fo­rum

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - AN­GELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

MINKE whale ex­pert John Rumney and tur­tle doc­tor Jen­nie Gil­bert will pro­vide a snapshot of the reef at an open fo­rum next week.

The re­cent whale mi­gra­tion has been one of the best Eye to Eye Marine En­coun­ters’ Mr Rumney has ever seen pass through the Dou­glas re­gion.

“Who knows why they come here but with the water a cou­ple de­grees colder than pre­vi­ous years it may have had an im­pact and we all had a very good sea­son,” he said.

“We are def­i­nitely a whale ex­pe­ri­ence with a bit of div­ing, we saw be­tween 42-80 whales ev­ery trip so it was a very good year.

“I am go­ing to talk about the dif­fer­ent projects like our re­search tourism pro­gram and also about work­ing with the BBC for their next doc­u­men­tary on the amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences on the Great Bar­rier Reef.”

Jen­nie Gil­bert, a vet who spe­cialises in tur­tles and set up the Cairns Tur­tle Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre in 2000, has been ob­serv­ing an in­creas­ing numbers of pa­tients.

“It started with Cy­clone Larry, de­stroy­ing the sea­grass (tur­tles’ food source) and then we had a re­ally wet dry sea­son, then the floods in Bris­bane and then Yasi,” she ex­plained.

“Due to the dec­i­ma­tion of the sea­grass we are see­ing an enor­mous spike in tur­tles, we have 15 tur­tles at the cen­tre when we had six last year.

“Ex­perts say sea­grass beds will take a cou­ple of years to re­cover fully and that’s if we don’t have any dis­as­trous en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions this year.”

Jen­nie said that tur­tles from the Dou­glas re­gion come to the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre ei­ther starv­ing or suf­fer­ing from floaters syn­drome.

Reef Snap­shots is be­ing pre­sented free by the Low Isles Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety at the Port Dou­glas Com­mu­nity Hall next Tues­day from 7pm and will give the pub­lic a chance to find out more in­for­ma­tion and also ask ques­tions.

Rub­bish war­rior: Erin Jef­frey helps clean up the range

Photo by JOHN AND LINDA RUMNEY

Su­per sea­son: minke whales ar­rived in record numbers this year

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