Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dolphins in Byron Bay.

So last saturday was my dolphin research training day in byron bay, which is about 30 miles away from here. There are buses running all day, but in order to be there in time, I had to catch the 4 am bus. Yes, that's right, 4 am. Lovely. So after about a 45 bus ride, I arrived in Byron at, ooh 5 am! It was absolutely gorgeous then. The sun was coming up, so the sky was all lavender and pink and just beautiful. All the old, hard core surfers were out, getting in their old style rides before all the young hot shots got there to hog their waves.

The lighthouse in Byron is the highest point there is in the area, which means it's a bit of a hike. When the bus dropped me off, I had about a mile beach walk before I actually got to the trail. The trail wound up around this hillside(mountainside) through a littoral rainforest, so some parts of the trail were completely surrounded by trees and moss and birds, just like walked through some mystical jungle tunnel. Other parts were right on the cliff side, overlooking all of Byron Bay. It was the best way to start a morning. I finally arrived at the lighthouse around 7, 2 hours before I needed to be there, so I just sat against the lighthouse and watched my ocean. I also watched a GIANT beetle climb up some metal cable next to me. He fell off once, and when I used my pen to turn him right side up, he hissed at me! I thought he was going to charge! I have never been more afraid of a beetle in my life. I then saw a lizard running along the path where it meets the grass. He was picking insects out of the grass line, while he ran along the warm cement. He seemed unconcerned with my presence. He let me walk with him for quite a while until he scampered over to a rock outcrop.

When the time for dolphin research came, I was so excited. I was the only one from the US there, so I was pretty psyched. Everyone seemed kind of shocked that I was from so far away. They were all mostly australian. So for the first half of the training we went up into the lighthouse to do observations, and learn how to run the program Cyclops. Using a camera scope and focus, it plots GPS points of where dolphins, fish, boats, etc are. We saw a pod of dolphins, one had a calf. They were gorgeous. I couldn't believe that they were just right there off shore. It makes me wonder how many times dolphins have been around me and I've never noticed. I also saw about an 8 foot manta ray! I just wanted to run out of the lighthouse and jump into the water and swim with him. He was so beautiful! I've never seen a manta in the wild, and it left me speechless. There were also multiple loggerhead sea turtles just kicking around. They are really big, much bigger than the green sea turtles I've seen in Hawaii. Australia definitely is the place to come for sea life. You don't even have to try to find it, if you just open your eyes, it's everywhere! I can't wait to get in the boat and do some water research!