Raine Island National Park in Queensland

Saturday, 27 March 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage

Green Sea Turtles and Masked Boobies © National Marine Sanctuaries - Mark Sullivan

Green Sea Turtles and Masked Boobies © National Marine Sanctuaries – Mark Sullivan

Raine Island is a vegetated coral cay 32 hectares (79 acres) in total area situated on the outer edges of the Great Barrier Reef off north-eastern Australia. It lies approximately 620 km (390 mi) north-northwest of Cairns in Queensland, about 120 kilometres (75 mi) east-north-east of Cape Grenville on the Cape York Peninsula. Raine Island is the site of the oldest European structure in tropical Australia, a stone beacon built in 1844, and harbours the world’s largest remaining population of green turtles. An important environmental icon, the island is totally protected from public access. It got its name from Captain Thomas Raine (1793–1860), the English mariner who discovered it. Raine Island is a vegetated coral cay dominated by low herbaceous annual vegetation (Batianoff et al. 1993). The cay is composed of a central core of phosphate rock surrounded by sand and extensive fringing reefs. It lies just off the eastern edge of the continental shelf, next to a shipping channel known as the Raine Island Entrance and Pandora entrance. The entrance allows shipping to enter the water of the Great Barrier Reef.

Raine Island is the largest and most important green sea turtle nesting area in the world, with up to 18,000 females nesting on the small coral sand cay in one season. The turtle population can vary from a figure of less than 1,000 to more than 10,000 and has been found to correlate with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The waters surrounding Raine Island are so active that seeing over 250 turtles during an hour in the water is common. The nesting site has been active on the island for more than 1,000 years, making it the longest known marine turtle rookery anywhere in the world. Up to 100,000 nesting females have been observed in a season, with the cay producing 90% of the region’s green turtles. However, the hatching rate declined in the 1990s, and a further decline in the population was threatened by the deaths of thousands of females as they struggled to climb the small sandy cliffs. In addition, as the shape of the island had changed over time, the spread of the beaches outwards had led to greater risk of inundation of the turtle nests. Between 2011 and 2020, a collaborative project by the Queensland Government, BHP (as corporate sponsor), the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and Wuthathi and Meriam traditional owners, reshaped the island using heavy machinery in a way that gave the female turtles a smoother passage and reduced the risk of nest inundation. A sophisticated monitoring and research system, using 3D modelling, satellite technology and drones was employed, and monitoring continues. As of June 2020, a project called “The Turtle Cooling Project” is being undertaken by scientists from the World Wildlife Fund Australia, University of Queensland, Deakin University and the Queensland Government. It is looking at the effect of global warming on northern green turtle breeding, in particular the effect of producing more male turtles owing to the higher temperatures. They are working in the area around Raine Island, Heron Island and Moulter Cay.

Brown booby © Andreas Trepte/cc-by-sa-4.0 Green sea turtle © Brocken Inaglory/cc-by-sa-4.0 Green sea turtle © Brocken Inaglory/cc-by-sa-4.0 Green Sea Turtles and Masked Boobies © National Marine Sanctuaries - Mark Sullivan Green sea turtle © Schuetze77/cc-by-sa-4.0 Red-tailed Tropicbird © carolinabirds.org - DickDaniels/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Green Sea Turtles and Masked Boobies © National Marine Sanctuaries - Mark Sullivan
More than 30 bird species have been observed on the island. The island holds special significance as a seabird breeding and roosting site. It is considered as the most significant tropical seabird breeding site in the Great Barrier Reef. The Raine Island National Park (Scientific), which includes not only Raine Island (21 ha) but also the neighbouring Moulter (8.6 ha, 21 acres) and MacLennan (2.4 ha, 5.9 acres) Cays, has been identified by BirdLife International as a 32 ha (79 acres) Important Bird Area because it supports, or has supported, over 1% of the world populations of nesting masked and brown boobies, common and black noddies, as well as regionally significant populations of herald petrels, red-footed boobies and red-tailed tropicbirds.

In August 2007 Raine Island, along with the neighbouring Moulter and MacLennan Cays, was declared a National Park (Scientific) under Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act 1992.

“Not only does Raine Island have the largest known green turtle rookery in the world with tens of thousands of turtles coming to lay their eggs each year, it is home to the endangered herald petrel and the vulnerable red-tailed tropic bird and is arguably the most significant seabird rookery on the Great Barrier Reef,”

“By upgrading Raine Island from Nature Refuge status to National Park (Scientific), its special values and adjacent cays and ensuring nature conservation research can continue to be conserved.”

By declaring Raine Island to be National Park (Scientific), the seabirds and turtles breeding colonies were able to be provided the State’s highest possible level of legal protection, strictly limiting all access to scientific research and essential management only. The declaration was made possible by the Wuthathi people and interested Torres Strait Islanders entering into a special Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the State, formally registering the agreement with National Native Title Tribunal, and so allowing the declaration to proceed.

Read more on gov.au – Raine Island National Park and Wikipedia Raine Island (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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