Marine Park Ranger in Tropical North Queensland
#5 Meeting with Julie Dutoit
Today, I jump on a ferry to go to an idyllic National Park:
Michaelmas Cay, a tiny sand island of the Great Barrier Reef (gazetted NP in 1975).
Michaelmas Cay is famous for its birds. Indeed, this is the most important seabird nesting in Cairns area and represents 1/7 for the whole GBR. Here, Greater and Lesser Crested Terns, Sooty Terns and Common Noddies can be seen.
Marine Park rangers has been coming every month to count the nests and complete the data sheets since 1984. Long term data sets are mandatory to see change over time. But there are still lots of questions without answer: between the early 1980’s and the 1990’s, high differences were registered: was due to the weather? The size of the birds? In the 2000’s, the numbers are again as high as they were in the 1980’s, which is positive.
But you may ask how they count them?!? Because there are thousands of them, the rangers estimate the number of nests (they cound one nest for every pair of birds). Better be concentrated while counted because they are everywhere and flying around!
Now, listen to Julie about her job on this beautiful island :
So who's has the best job in the world?
But Michaelmas Cay is also a well-known touristic destination and much appreciated for diving and snorkeling in the reef…This is just so stunning believe me!
A balance has been found between tourism and conservation. Tourists and seabirds co-exists thanks to zoning plans, Industry Code of Conduct and the definition of a Restricted Access Area. That’s why only 3 permits has been allowed to tourism operators to bring people along.
To go there, book online through: www.oceanspirit.com.au