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InformationnigeltFriday, 14 February 2020 - 4:20pm
Solitude. A recent mid-afternoon, scrambling precariously across the fractured rock headland just east of Balberook Creek. Barely a breeze, patchily overcast, gently warm – a welcome relief from the preceding days and weeks. Slowly descending towards the sandy cove a shallow dome interrupts its sharply angled surrounds. Lodged firmly against a rock face, one sadly departed turtle; green by name, but coyly sheltering behind chelonia mydas. A 90 cm carapace shows it to have been approaching full size, but flipper extremities now succumbing to crabs. No rope to secure it against the early morning tide – must trust to luck that it doesn`t venture too far.
Home. 4984 8200. ‘Hello. Environment and Heritage, Nelson Bay.’ Yes, they would like it for dissection, etc. but lack of staff, vehicle, time this arvo. ‘Would you be available tomorrow am ?’
Promptly at 8.30 a dual-cab ute fronts up in sporadic rain, enclosing a pair of yellow garbed rangers. We trio wend our way west along overnight rain-sodden bush tracks, eventually gingerly descending their steep, deeply rutted conclusion to the cove sands.
Serendipity. A pause in the rain and just 50 metres distant the bloated remains have eased out of the restraining rocks and are rocking gently in the slowly receding tide. The ‘shorts and thongs’ individual wades in and effortlessly propels, guides it to the beach. Rolling it side-over–side the few metres onto a large pad, four heavy-duty velcro arms fold over to embrace it. ‘Up, up, up’ and it`s on the tray. A pause as we step back to gulp in fresh air; days of decomposition have done little to improve its olfactory appeal. The rain ends its temporary truce as we extricate selves and our inert quarry.
Mid afternoon, Nelson Bay calls - ‘Thank you’.
A bit about green turtles: Their status varies from vulnerable to endangered, their main perils being us humans and our discarded products. For research purposes, Environment & Heritage on 4984 8200 would welcome advice regarding any relatively intact specimens you may come across. Just a phone call - and they`ll do the rest.