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| BNE January/February 2017


Lady Musgrave Island off the coast of Bundaberg

The Great Barrier

Reef is recognised

as one of the seven

natural wonders of

the world and has

been on UNESCO’s

World Heritage List

since 1981 for its

outstanding universal

value (topping all

four natural criteria).

Covering less than

one per cent of the

ocean floor, reefs

support an estimated

25 per cent of all

marine life.

“if all goes well” and she isn’t hindered by a piece of coral, tree root or some

other immoveable object, causing her to stop, shift and start over. While

the Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world’s seven species of marine

turtles, Lady Musgrave Island is a significant nesting ground for greens and

a smaller group of loggerheads.

The experience of watching a turtle nest is humbling and empowering

at the same time. A moment when time truly stops in one of the greatest

cycles of life. One that Jim, himself, first experienced as a tourist back in

1984 when he joined a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ranger-

guided turtle encounter at Mon Repos Turtle Centre on a family holiday

to Bundaberg. Instantly smitten, he returned as a volunteer on the turtle

conservation project headed by Dr Col Limpus, chief scientist with EHP’s

Threatened Species Unit. The rest is history.

Nothing short of a legend in the turtle world, Col knows all too well the

life-changing impact turtles have on visitors, inspiring many to become

citizen scientists, as reflected in an estimated 10,000 who have undergone

training as volunteers (around 200 each year for close to 50 years).

“That’s a feature of a program like this,” says Col who started the

project in 1968. “Not everyone gets caught up in it, but there’s a lot

who do. We see visitors who come back year after year explicitly, in the

extreme, to see particular turtles at Mon Repos. And we get children who

visit, grow up and join us as volunteers, with a number going into careers

in conservation.”

On Lady Musgrave Island, Jim Buck looks forward to greeting each new

clutch of wide-eyed campers (from all corners of the globe), making lifelong

friends in the process.

“We always spend as much time as we can with campers and visitors,

educating and inspiring older and younger generations alike … at some

stage I’ll be too old to keep doing this and we need people who want to

carry on the work.”

Jim Buck, photographed by his daughter Penny Smith, is passionate

about the creatures of the reef off Lady Musgrave Island and

volunteers to assist research. A juvenile green turtle and squid, above,

photographed by Jim Buck.