Celebrating World Turtle Day

World Turtle Day is an annual event celebrated worldwide on May 23rd to raise awareness about the conservation of turtles and their habitats.

Marine turtle
© David Troeger on Unsplash

Turtles are one of the oldest living reptiles on earth, and they have been around for over 200 million years. They are an important part of the Australian ecosystem, playing a vital role in maintaining the balance of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Turtles are also considered to be keystone species, which means they have a disproportionate effect on the environment relative to their abundance.

There are six species of marine turtles found in Australian waters, including the Green Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Flatback Turtle and Leatherback Turtle. They are all listed as Endangered or Vulnerable to extinction.

Image credit: Sea Turtle Foundation

World Turtle Day provides a platform for raising awareness about the conservation needs of these fascinating creatures and encourages action to protect their habitats. It serves as a reminder that we all have a role to play in preserving and safeguarding our natural environment for future generations.

How You Can Make a Difference: On World Turtle Day, and beyond, there are several ways in which you can contribute to turtle conservation:

  1. Reduce plastic consumption: Minimize single-use plastics and participate in local beach clean-ups to prevent marine debris from polluting turtle habitats.
  2. Support conservation organizations: Donate to reputable organizations focused on turtle conservation efforts in Australia and around the world.
  3. Promote responsible tourism: Choose eco-friendly travel operators that prioritize sustainable practices and adhere to guidelines for responsible wildlife encounters.
  4. Educate and raise awareness: Share information about World Turtle Day on social media, organize local events, and engage in conversations that highlight the importance of turtle conservation.
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SeaWeek 2023

SeaWeek is Australia’s major national public awareness campaign to focus community awareness and appreciation of the sea. This week-long event is held every year in March and provides a great opportunity to learn about marine environment. So, take a dive under the water this SeaWeek and explore our amazing marine environments with me.

Seaweek graphic

It was great to be able to spend time diving over the last few week exploring the marine environment around Sydney.

Marine Life title slide

Explore the amazing diversity of Marine Life. Take a journey beneath the waves to explore this wonderful world. Learn about some of these incredible animals, their adaptions and habitats with the resources below.

Where the river meets the sea title slide

Follow the journey of water down the river through the catchment to the sea. Water is essential for all forms of life and the small amount of available freshwater create competing pressures for our water resources. 

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Adventures on the Great Barrier Reef

I was very excited to get back to the Great Barrier Reef last week. I stayed out on Ocean Quest for 5 days diving Norman and Saxon Reefs. Over the 5 days I went on 12 amazing dives and 4 snorkels exploring both reefs.

The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage site that stretches more than 2,000km. The reef can be seen from space and is under threat. No other World Heritage site contains so much biodiversity — more than 1,500 species of fish, 400 species of coral, 4,000 species of molluscs, and 240 species of birds. Don’t forget all the sponges, anemones, marine worms, crustaceans and other species.

The variety of fish life is staggering, everywhere you look, you see something new hiding amongst the coral or out on the sand. The photos don’t do it justice.

Sometimes you only get a glimpse, but that is enough to see my first Hammerhead Shark.

The team from Deep Sea Divers Den were fabulous, all the staff from the kitchen to the dive crew made my stay an incredible adventure. I’m already planning my trip next year.

A big thanks also goes out to Saara & Lachie and Claudio and Natalie for letting me join their dives and for sharing their photos and video footage with me.

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Underwater at Shelly Beach

It was great to get back in the water after a long winter break. Hearing that there were Port Jackson Sharks (PJs) at Shelly Beach got me in the water today. I lost count after about 25, there were PJs everywhere. They varied in colour and most were under a metre long.

Port Jackson Shark

Port Jackson Shark, Heterodontus portusjacksoni are very common tis time of year, between May – October. The teeth of the Port Jackson Shark are not serrated and are used to hold and break, then crush and grind the shells of molluscs and sea urchins.

Giant Cuttlefish

The Giant Cuttlefish Sepia apama are one of my favourite animals to find on a dive. On our way back to shore I spotted one under under a rocky ledge and was excited to see a second Cuttle hiding too. They are inquisitive and playful and came out in the open to check us out.

Blue Groper

The Eastern Blue Groper Achoerodus viridis is a familiar sight for Sydney Divers. The friendly Blue Groper often follows you around while you are on a dive. I have been surprised more than once to turn around and be face to face with one of these guys. You can find out more about the Blue Groper on the Australian Museum website

Smooth Stingray

We saw several Smooth Stingrays Bathytoshia brevicaudatais hiding in the sand when we were on the way back to shore. One was on top of the sand and the other had covered itself in sand. You could just see the outline of the stingray and the eyes sticking out above the sand. The Smooth stingray are the largest stingray in the world, but sometimes still hard to spot. Check out the video below (not my video).

What can you do to help preserve this amazing environment?

  • Remove any rubbish that you find in the water or on the beach
  • Remove any bits of fishing line and nets that you see
  • Be aware that what you do on land impacts our marine systems downstream
Plastics in the Ocean Infographic
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My Sister the Octopus Whisperer

We just finished a lovely SCUBA dive in Chowder Bay in Sydney Harbour and my sister will now forever be known as the Octopus Whisperer. She has always had a great eye for detail when we dive together. However on this dive, even in the murky water she was incredible.

She lead the way on this adventure while I was testing out my new underwater camera. While I was focused on the camera, she was spotting octopus, moray eels, seahorses and more. She found 4 Common Sydney Octopus, Octopus tetricus hiding under rocks in the sand and even one using shells to camouflage.

The Common Sydney Octopus can grow up to 80cms in size, they are big, but very good at hiding. She was definitely the Octopus Whisperer on this dive and I can’t wait to see what she finds on the next dive!

Michelle has been my dive buddy for the last 25 years and we have had some amazing adventures together, I literally trust her with my life! Check out the video of our adventure. The new camera is great and hopefully my camera skills will improve too.

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Marine world adventure

This week has been an incredible marine world adventure, above and below the water. I started the week with a Marvellous Marine Life virtual excursion in the morning, followed by a night snorkel at Shelly Beach Manly. On Tuesday I presented a special live streamed event, Under the Sea for Children’s Week. Wednesday morning I had an amazing scuba dive at Clifton Gardens. My marine world adventure concluded with another Marvellous Marine Life virtual excursion.

Image©John Turnbull
Clockwise: male White’s seahorse, stars and stripes puffer, mourning cuttlefish and common stingaree

I love sharing my underwater advenures and have been delivering virtual excursions for students for many years. This years has had it’s challenges as I wasn’t able to get to the water due to months of lockdown. One thing that kept me going was being able to share my marine adventures and stories with students across Australia.

We had word that over the weekend there was a lot of bioluminescence in the water at Manly. My sister and I thought it was time for a night snorkel to experience the bioluminescence. It is an amazing experience being in the water, you see flashes of light when you move your hand quickly through the water.

Bioluminescence is light produced as a result of a chemical reaction in animals. Some animals make the necessary chemicals themselves, some absorb them from their food and others allow bioluminescent organisms to live inside them forming a symbiotic relationship. 

Bioluminescence in the water © Abyss SCUBA Diving

It was great to get back in the water this week and after the bioluminescence, I wasn’t sure what could top it. Well, a nice shore dive at Clifton Gardens definitely was the answer. We were greeted by a massive stingray, that was doing laps checking up on us. The visibility wasn’t great but we discovered so many seahorses camouflaging against the pylons of the wharf and the nets around the pool. There were lots cuttlefish, one of my favourite animals. We also saw a couple of huge pufferfish swimming around too. It was a great way to get back in the water after so long.

You can check out the recording of the Under the Sea program for Children’s Week.

You can find out more about the Marvellous Marine Life incursions and virtual excursions.

Marine World reources

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