The rules of Bare Sand Island
On our last new moon Turtle Tracks cruise Team Turtle were asked by an inquisitive young soul why Turtle Island had so many rules. The answer is really summed up in the briefing that we give guests before they step onto the island:
Safety on Bare Sand Island
To look after our guests it is important to stay out of the water and away from the water edge. The waters around Bare Sand Island and all of Northern Territory are home to saltwater crocodiles, box jelly fish and a number of other nasties. It is in everybody’s best interest that these creatures are not tantalized by humans that venture into their territory.
Respecting our culture
To respect our culture we acknowledge the Larrakia as Traditional Owners of Bare Sand Island. Ngulbitjik is the Traditional name of the island, as advised by the Kenbi Custodians of the Larrakia land and sea of Bynoe Harbour. Sea Darwin has the permission of the Kenbi Custodians to visit this island. The sole tree on Ngulbitjik is a sacred site and Kenbi Custodians have requested that we are not to visit this tree, and not to venture inland past the sand dunes, and not to light fires on the island.
WW2 history of Bare Sand Island
To ensure that our guests are safe it is also important to know about the military history of Bare Sand Island, which was used as a bombing range in WWII and for years after. The Department of Defence are in the process of removing all unexploded ordinances from the island, and while this is occurring Bare Sand Island has been declared an exclusion zone. Sea Darwin has permission from the Department of Defence to visit this island at the times of our scheduled turtle tours. Metallic objects are still being washed up and exposed, and these pose a risk if touched or interfered with.
To look after the sea turtles that nest on Bare Sand Island, correct turtle etiquette is important. Flatbacks and Olive Ridleys are both a threatened species, and they do bite. Sea Darwin takes its advanced eco-certification very seriously, and ensures that interactions with sea turtles are done in accordance with national turtle watching protocols. All of Team Turtle have qualifications that enable them to know how to best guide turtle interaction, so as to ensure that the turtles are not distressed by our presence. These qualifications include relevant tertiary and post tertiary qualifications, as well as guides who have been trained by, and who continue their work with Austurtle. The NT Government has an interest in sea turtle populations and any turtle tourism interactions, even just photography, requires a permit from NT Parks and Wildlife, which members of Team Turtle have.