Raine Island - Nature's Cradle on the Edge of the Coral Sea
Satellite Web Cast From Turtle Heaven and Hell
Journal Entry - 01- 30 - 03
Shark Day......Or Not!
Director Hogarth, again writing tonight, a day spent in search of sharks.

A tawny nurse shark swims around the baits.
Well, if yesterday was the day and evening of the heron - today has to be the day of the shark. Now - I'm writing about an animal which I have never really thought much about. Me - up until now I've been strictly a mammal person. This morning at first light Richard and I went over to the island to film details of the island. We wanted to get small details, as the waves washed over the tracks left behind by turtles and birds, those sorts of images. It's so different, the rain that has come has turned it green, and I hope that we get some more rain soon . We went over as the tide was still coming in and from the zodiac Dean spotted a tiger shark in the shallows. They are such powerful and graceful animals, sinuous as the shark glided through the reef shallows that surround Raine. Was it a she? Was it a he? We don't know. Just a beautiful wild animal gliding around the island on the look out for whatever was around. Last trip we filmed a tiger attacking a live turtle as she came off the island, and we've also filmed tiger sharks feeding on dead turtles that have been washed from the island at the high tides. We tried to follow this tiger with the zodiac, but the animal was going about her - or his - own business and just slipped out over the drop off and vanished into the deep blue that surrounds the island.

A sea fan at depth with sun burst in background.
Ashore - we filmed some tiny turtle hatchlings as they made their way into the sea, swept back time and again by the waves. They must have been late with their hatching. And a couple of females as they hauled their way back to the soft embrace of the sea. I watched as the incoming tide flooded a turtles body pit, and wondered about the eggs that perhaps she had laid. And just at the height of the tide we returned to the Floreat to try and tag another tiger - but no luck today. There was one bite at the bait from a tiger, but that was all.

The rest of the day was spent in waiting. Looking for sharks, or at least looking for a specific species, takes time and patience - and them more patience!

Cleanup time - Time for a haircut.
So today the activity was centered at the back of the boat, watching the baits to see if there was any movement and watching the sea for the glimpse of a tigers dorsal fin. No more tigers came.

But there was still a lot of activity. Ashton, the sound recordist with us, decided that today was the day for a hair cut. First he cut Adam Barnett's hair till his head glowed like a cue ball then Adam cut his. Ashton's got shorter and shorter until he also was left with no hair at all. Some might have grown back by the time he gets home, they do say that the difference between a good and a bad haircut is a couple of weeks. For Ashton it could be a couple of months.

A tawny nurse shark swims around the baits.
Around the back of the boat the water was alive with activity. First some silver tipped sharks came in to look at the bait set for the tigers. Graceful and streamlined animals, delicate markings on the pectoral fins. Then a large tawny shark came in, and came in again and again. Paul was able to get the camera lens close to this tawny, and he didn't even have to get wet while he did it. The tawny swam up time and again to the lens. Oh, if all wildlife filming was this easy, or the animals so accommodating. But then perhaps if it were this easy everyone would be doing it - then again, perhaps not.

While the silver tips were swimming around, there were two or three, a large grey reef shark also swam in to investigate the activity, but didn't stay for long.

And there was another fish that got everyone excited, quite a rare sighting for the northern Great Barrier Reef they tell me. It was a wahoo, a pelagic predator that stayed around the back of the Floreat for quite a while, then decided to head away into the deep of the blue.

A cuttlefish found on the afternoon dive.
The weather still continues to be unseasonable, virtually no wind and the sea is like a mirror, Last night I watched the reflection of the milky way in the blackness of the water - that was very special. The southern cross was way down on the horizon for we are very far to the north.

Once it turned out there was going to be no chance of tagging a tiger this day, a lot of the guys went for as dive in the afternoon. I do dive, but the rest enjoy it far more than I. While they were out and under doing their thing, and as the sun was setting and the sky and the sea were turning to a deep shade of pink, two whales swam past in the distance, probably Brydes whales - and so for a mammal person I was happy, but I was also more than happy to be a part of the sharks' day.

Hopefully soon we'll have some satellite hits from the female shark that we tagged last year, also the male we tagged a few days ago, and when we do we'll let you know where they are. Not to mention the green turtle with her tag - I wonder where she has gone to?

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