PO Box 34 U
Charles Darwin University
NT 0815 Australia

Email:austurtle@austurtle.org.au
 
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Volunteer Opportunity -

Bare Sand Island Sea Turtle Research

AusTurtle Inc is a major supporter of sea turtle research at Bare Sand Island, Northern Territory.

A large population of flatback sea turtles nest at Bare Sand Island during the winter months. During this time, researchers and volunteers gather data on the nesting turtles to estimate population size, monitor abundance over time and to determine any threats to survival. This research has been running since 1996 and has identified an important nesting population of flatback sea turtles. Funding for the research has always been very restricted creating limitations to data collection and the length of the field season. With increasing support from AusTurtle over the next 5 years, it is hoped that research will be able to be expanded to include electronic tagging of nesting turtles, satellite tracking of nesting turtles and undertaking extensive temperature studies on the nests in situ. With this additional support it will create an ideal work environment for student projects, further enhancing our knowledge of the species and the research undertaken.

The waters around Bare Sand Island support significant numbers of foraging green and hawksbill turtles. Both species are vulnerable to extinction under Australian classification (EPBC Act 1999). Green turtles are internationally classified as endangered and hawksbill turtles are critically endangered internationally (IUCN Red List). Annually researchers monitor green and hawksbill turtle populations by capture of turtles while they are feeding on the reef. This research will provide population estimates, relative species abundance and identify threats.

 

About the project
Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia has conducted a sea turtle research project to Bare Sand Island since 1989. This project is a scientific study to examine the biology and ecology of nesting and foraging sea turtles. This will help with sea turtle conservation regionally, nationally and internationally.

The project is run by Michael Guinea of Charles Darwin University, Darwin (contact details below).

Location
Bare Sand Island is situated at the end of a chain of islands in northern Fog Bay, about 50 km west of Darwin. The island is approximately 1.8 km in circumference. Bare Sand Island sits upon a rocky reef, and as the name suggests is almost all sand with very little vegetation and almost no shade.

Environment
Bare Sand Island is mostly sand and consists of low dunes sparsely vegetated with grasses and herbs. One tree grows on the island but it is unsuitable for shade as it is a sacred site. The island is 1.8 km in circumference and takes about 40 min to walk around.

The region is subject to a large tidal range (up to 8 m) and the island is therefore subject to strong currents. Strong winds can occur in the area and this makes camping uncomfortable in the sandy conditions.

The nearest settlement is a house on Dum in Mirrie Island (over 10 km away). Otherwise the research camping is fairly isolated with the next community over 20 km to the south.

 

Research activities
Nesting Flatback Sea Turtles -
Activities will be conducted at night and early morning and will include checking the beach for tracks, tagging and measuring adult females, counting and measuring eggs.

Foraging Green and Hawksbill Sea Turtles -
Activities may be conducted during the day and can include catching juvenile turtles on the reef flat using nets and by hand, tagging and measuring all turtles, helping will specific studies on blood chemistry, diet analysis and movements (using tracking equipment).

      

Wildlife Observations -
Other interesting fauna visit the island and its surrounding waters. These are opportunistically studied. They include sea and shore birds, dolphins and dugongs.

Dates
Update on trips:

Volunteers are required for the 2014 research expeditions between 9 June and 25 July 2014. There are seven separate research trips. There are positions for eight volunteers on each trip. There is a cost for each trip to cover food and transport expenses. The advantages of staying for two weeks include: developing a synergy with the island, the tides and the turtles; having greater participation in collecting and collating data; enjoying the company of other volunteers for even longer.

Costs, Registration and Pre-payment
It is necessary to register your intention to fill a volunteer position in the trips. This can be done by checking the vacancies below and emailing your intention to
AusTurtle Inc (contact details below).  A pre-payment deposit of $50.00 will ensure that your registration is confirmed and your name will appear below in the appropriate position for the nominated trip. The balance of your payment should be made on arrival in Darwin and before the trip. If you cancel your registration your pre-payment deposit will be used to support the sea turtle research conducted on Bare Sand Island by AusTurtle Inc and acknowledged on this web site.

The costs for 2014
Full time students = $60.00 per day (i.e. 7 days for $420.00 or 14 days for $840.00 including AusTurtle Inc membership).

Non-students are charged the same as students = $60.00 per day (i.e. 7 days for $420.00 or 14 days for $840.00 including AusTurtle Inc membership).

Members of corporations please contact us for a personalised trip catering to your requirements).

Transport covers high speed boat ride from Darwin Harbour to Bare Sand Island with "Snubfin" operated by Sea Darwin.

A transport surcharge will be required for shorter trips or for leaving the island at an unscheduled time to cover the cost of additional boat charges. This will be done in consultation with the boat operator.

Included in the cost are the following:
Transport within Darwin to shop for provisions.
Vehicle and boat transfer to and from Bare Sand Island
Food and accommodation (3 person tent for each volunteer) on Bare Sand Island

Not included are:
Food and accommodation in Darwin prior to and after the trip to Bare Sand Island.
Transport to and from the Airport / Railway station or Transit centre in Darwin.
Personal Insurance volunteers are expected to have their own personal travel and health insurance. Personal expenses.

At times we have some e-mail difficulties! Check if your name is listed for the appropriate trip. IF NOT, THEN CONTACT MARK, ANDREW OR MICK.

Trip 1

Departure Date: Monday 9 June 2014

Return Date: 167 June 2014

Volunteers: Your name will be listed here after your successful application.

1.

5.

2.

6.

3.

7.

4.

8.

Plus Leader and Field Assistant

Trip 2

Departure Date: Monday 16 June 2014

Return Date: 23 June 2014

Volunteers: Your name will be listed here after your successful application.

1. Casuarina Senior College

5. Casuarina Senior College

2. Casuarina Senior College

6. Casuarina Senior College

3. Casuarina Senior College

7. Casuarina Senior College

4. Casuarina Senior College

8. Casuarina Senior College

Plus Leader and Field Assistant

Trip 3

Departure Date: Monday 23 June 2014
Return Date: 30 June 2014

Volunteers:Your name will be listed here after your successful application.

1.

5.

2.

6.

3.

7.

4.

8.

Plus Leader and Christine Giuliano

Trip 4

Departure Date: Monday 30 June 2014
Return Date: 7 July 2014

Volunteers:Your name will be listed here after your successful application.

1. Gayle South

5.

2. Lucy Anderson

6.

3. Linda Baker

7.

4. Megan Berry

8.

Plus Leader and Christine Giuliano

Trip 5

Departure Date: Monday 7 July 2014
Return Date: 14 July 2014

Volunteers:Your name will be listed here after your successful application.

1. Elizabeth Wemyss

5. Lucy Anderson

2. Adam Schwebel

6. Catherine Giuliano

3. James Fensham

7. Clinton Faux

4. Gayle South

8.Balazs Lovrecz

Plus Leader and Christine Giuliano

Trip 6

Departure Date: Monday 14 July 2014
Return Date: 21 July 2014

Volunteers:Your name will be listed here after your successful application.

1. Phillip Paull

5.

2.

6.

3.

7.

4.

8.

Plus Leader and Field Assistant

Trip 7

Departure Date: Monday 21 July 2014
Return Date: Friday or Saturday 25 or 26 July 2014

Volunteers:Your name will be listed here after your successful application.

1.

5.

2.

6.

3.

7.

4.

8.

Plus Leader and Field Assistant

These expeditions are open to anyone. Interested volunteers should complete a volunteer application form and contact AusTurtle Inc through the website.

All volunteers will be required to fill in an application form.

What to expect
This is a fun trip but requires hard work and long hours working under difficult conditions. Volunteers will help with all research activities during the expeditions. The island consists of very fine sand that gets everywhere when conditions are windy (40 km per hour). You will be walking on soft sand. It is difficult to keep it out of cloths, bags, tents etc.

There is a composting toilet and saltwater is used for bathing, dish and laundry washing. Freshwater is reserved for drinking and cooking. Food is basic consisting of meats and breads with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Meals are prepared fresh daily using fresh ingredients. Specialised food requirements are catered for providing sufficient notice is provided on your application form. All volunteers will be required to participate in general camp duties including camp setup and maintenance and food preparation, cleaning and washing dishes. The main camp will consist of a large tent to store food and general gear. A gazebo to cover the open air kitchen. A geodesic dome (5 m diameter) acts as a communal area and provides shade during the day. Electricity is provided by solar panels (200 Watts) for refrigeration and lighting. There is limited capacity for charging equipment such as cameras. It is advisable to bring a personal solar charger for your equipment. I

What to bring
Remember it will be hot during the day (30 C) and cold at night (15 C), there is limited shade away from the camp and fine sand will get everywhere!

General - Hat, sunglasses, long sleeved shirt for sun protection, long pants , dive boots or old runners to get wet, water proof sunscreen or zinc cream, pull-over or jumper, personal toiletries, talcum powder, moisturiser, shampoo and conditioner, swimmers, camera (in plastic bag), sleeping bag, pillow, sleeping mat, water bottle, personal torch or head spotlight (with a red LED), some fishing gear.

Don't forget to pack your sense of adventure along with plenty of enthusiasm!

Further information
For further information on the research trip, download the volunteer manual:

Volunteer Manual

Draft Research and Monitoring Procedures

Word
                      documentSample Risk Assessment with muster point

Or have a look at a review of the research trip in the Australian Geographic:


Australian Geographic
September 2003 issue

 

Contact details
For more general information please contact Mick, Mark or Andrew
by e-mailing austurtle@austurtle.org.au.

Dr. Michael Guinea
Faculty of Engineering, Health, Science and the Environment
Charles Darwin University
Darwin, NT, Australia, 0909
Tel. +61 8 89466707      Fax +61 8 89466847 mobile: 0438192507
Email: michael.guinea@cdu.edu.au
OR
austurtle@austurtle.org.au

 

 


2006.   Last updated 14 February 2014

AusTurtle Inc.
PO Box 34u, Charles Darwin University, NT 0815 Australia
Email: austurtle@austurtle.org.au