The Circle Of Life On Fraser Island

What a start to the summer we’ve had on Fraser Island with absolutely stunning weather all through Christmas and well into the New Year.  Australia Day saw the weather turn briefly as Ex-Cyclone Oswald moved down the Australian coastline… but since then it’s been business as usual for us - aside from some large puddles, downed tree branches and left litter, which the resort gardeners promptly gathered up to use for mulch in our onsite nursery.

We’ve also had a good variety of bush fruits in season around Kingfisher Bay this summer. The aptly-named Blue Tongues have finished fruiting - they were both delicious and amusing for our smaller guests as they tended to stain tongues blue for a few minutes. However, we still have Blue Quandongs, Blueberry Ash, and some sweet and lovely Lillypilly fruit waiting to be discovered during our guided day walks.

The life cycle of a Loggerhead Sea Turtle
The balmy conditions have also been perfect for our Ranger-guided night walks and we’ve seen all manner of creatures great and small.  Regular readers may know there are three species of freshwater turtle commonly found on Fraser Island including the Fraser Island short-necked turtle along with the Eastern snake-necked turtle and the Broad-shelled river turtle.

This month we’ve also seen one of our Sea Turtle species – the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) - feeding on the oyster shells down near Kingfisher Bay’s jetty on the western side of Fraser.

These animals lay their eggs on the far north-west coast of the island from October with baby Loggerheads starting to hatch around mid-January (see picture below).

What you may not know is that a special group of volunteers – including our own Ranger Guide/Resident photographer Peter Meyer (who has helped in the past) - work tirelessly with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Rangers to assist the turtles during nesting season on Fraser Island.  As the local Fraser Coast Chronicle reported the volunteers spend weeks in isolation at Sandy Cape (on the northern tip of the island) and each day at around 3.30am they go in search of nests.

Loggerhead hatchlings - The Fraser Coast Chronicle
Typically there are about 80 to 100 eggs in every clutch and the volunteers carefully relocate them to a rookery behind the dunes to finish gestating. Once eggs start hatching, volunteers make sure the hatchlings aren’t distracted by bright lights or eaten by predators such as dingoes as they instinctively make their way to the ocean.

DID YOU KNOW? Turtles are one of the oldest reptile groups dating back 200 million years.

A little closer to the resort, we’ve seen plenty of beautiful Bluespotted Stingrays (Neotrygon kuhlii - see picture below) off the jetty.  These animals have their eyes on the top of their head and the mouth and nostrils on their underside and, over time, have had to adapt to feed.  In order to get at the food under the sand, these animals hover over the spot where they sense food is and pulse their sides up and down until the sand fans out beneath and behind them.  It’s then a simple matter to scoop food - mainly crabs - into their waiting mouths.

The Bluespotted Stingray is simply striking
Our amphibian mates have also relished the recent rainfall in the wallum and have made regular appearances during our night walks – with some Rocket frogs (Litoria nasuta) leaping over two metres in a single bound - keeping our guests amused.

As we move further into February, we’ll be turning our attention to the skies above Fraser Island and Hervey Bay with a report on our feathered friends.   Stay tuned tree huggers!