Raine Island - Nature's Cradle on the Edge of the Coral Sea
Satellite Web Cast From Turtle Heaven and Hell
Journal Entry - 02- 06 - 03
Homeward Bound
On the last leg. Ten hours out of Cairns. The team is up in the saloon playing loud word games over beer and wine, our director has wisely retired (age brings wisdom). Richard is editing an expedition video which should put all to shame when finished. We'll no doubt see it at breakfast as we enter Cairns harbor in the morning. And I am once again typing when I want to be in bed asleep.

I have been thinking all day about how to close this, this thing. It has been more than just a daily report, it was people all over the world reading, I hope with some interest, about the green turtles at a special place called Raine Island. I think back to the single day last Dec. when I was dog tired and simply didn't get the entry out in time - twelve hours late - and received, to my surprise, a number of e-mails asking where the report was and why we were late. Certainly, when I dreamed up the crazy idea, for me anyway, of doing a remote web cast from Raine I had no idea how many people might find it interesting. And because of scheduling constraints with several sponsors I was unable to promote the effort until the last minute so we didn't get the all the publicity we might have otherwise had.

Just to give you an idea of how much traffic the site has had, as of this morning we had approximately 140,000 hits to the web site since we started the Raine Island web cast. I can tell you my web site gets a healthy level of monthly traffic but nothing like 46,000 hits a month (the web cast has been up since the end of Nov. - I include the entire month of Nov. to round - another unscientific approach). Obviously, the response has been tremendous.

Technically this project has been nothing but a success. I was able to get the sponsors to support this effort which I hope in some small way brought some small new piece of information about the natural world to our visitors. I realize the information I typed wasn't perfect, couldn't be, nothing ever is and if you hope to send an e-mail by sat. phone to the States every night after a hard day and not make mistakes then you're expecting too much. All the mistakes are mine. I am sure I garbled valuable input of Sr. Conservation Officer Ian Bell who worked tirelessly to keep me on the straight and narrow with regards to turtle biology and behavior and Dr. Jamie Seymour on the Nov. / Dec. expedition. There are others also, I am sure who may say I misrepresented their words. For that I apologize, and reply that they should have stayed up so I could reconfirm the facts because this has to go out.
Lunch with Mel Gibson.
I guess, for me, the point is that if one more person, like my niece or nephews, out there learn that green turtles are special reptiles and in need of protection for the future then all the mistakes and jokes that went on for almost two months about this effort has been worth it. All the lost sleep - not a night when the light didn't go out before midnight - tonight to be the same - has been worth it. All the worry and stress will have been worth it, because the turtles are worth it. It was an absolutely eye opening experience

But none of this would have been possible without the help of the companies which saw the value in the project: Iridium Satellite LLC, Nikon, Apple Computer, and LexarMedia (digital film). Without Iridium's gracious help I would not have be able to beam text and images half way around the world with surprising regularity and ease. Their technology made it all simple and possible. And Nikon. For a decade I have been shooting Nikon film cameras and when this opportunity presented itself both Nikon and I saw this as good opportunity to put the D100 digital SLR to the test in the field. Nikon even went so far as to build a web site dedicated to the Raine Island expedition and feature a photo a day from the island for two weeks. If you would like to check it out its at http://pdnevents.com/raineisland. I greatly appreciate their belief in my photography and the difference they find in my fish, as they say.

Tandoori lamb-lamb cafe style on the back deck.
On my computer: for the last three months I have gone nowhere without my Apple G4 computer. It has been the nerve centre of this project, allowing me to manage the digital images, write emails, and log on and off the air waves. The creative folks at Apple didn't have to work hard to see their computer in a different setting and that's what they are all about. It has been the envy of all the PC users on the boat - they are all PC users.

But without digital film no digital photography. LexarMedia compact flash cards and fire wire card readers did the job supporting the Nikon D100 through thousands of images, not missing or corrupting a single one. They are robust and highly recommended.

The folks at these companies deserve a hand because in a world where "NO" is commonplace they bothered to look again and recognized that Raine Island is a special place and were willing to commit resources. I applaud them for that. I am also going to hate giving back all the toys. But there is a lot of pressure that goes with the equipment - one can't just destroy it. Every time I took the Nikon D100 underwater I had visions of the underwater housing protecting the camera leaking. Makes you move a little slower and more thoughtfully. It belongs to someone else, don't break it!

Paul Sutherland with the Nikon D100 digital camera.
I also can't say enough about Richard Fitzpatrick and his team. Wherever possible he and they did everything to help in every way possibly. Of course it was in his own best interest to do so, hell, he got more email than I did about how great the journal was. Problem is he was asleep when the work was being done. He would just laugh every time another complimentary email came in over MY apple computer. But he still wants MY computer and My D100 so there Richard.......

And Jeremy Hogarth, the tireless NHNZ Director, the boss, the energizer bunny. He said who wouldn't be when all you do is stand around and watch. Not true, Jeremy was always carrying something or looking for something to carry. Many thanks for writing when it helped the most.

And the crew of the Floreat made it all happen: Marcus, Gordon, Connor. It all comes apart without them. Many thanks.
The one person who has yet to be mentioned, that I remember, David Burt, my webmaster. Back in New Jersey this creative master has designed any number of beautiful and wild web sites for big names and the little guys alike. He has been a patient and attentive friend for the entire time I have been sending him journal entries, something which I think would make me nuts, but he lives for this sort of work. Thank you David!! Check out his web site at www.studioburt.com.

It doesn't seem right that the expedition logs should end this way so I am going to post a group picture and a gallery (that is David will work with me) of about 20 images of Raine. I also hope to put up several images with associated sound tied to the images. Please back check into the web site in the next week or so to have a look at the gallery and listen to the "performance art".

Thanks for coming along on the journey.

Don't forget you can email us questions at
Built on an Apple G4 Titanium Powerbook courtesy of Apple Computers Inc., Connected to the world by Iridium Satellite LLC and Digital eyes courtesy of Nikon - the new D100 digital camera, Captured on LexarMedia digital film.
© 2003, Paul Sutherland Photography LLC. All images and text on this and every other page on this web site are protected by US and international copyright law. No unauthorized use of any kind whatsoever is permitted.