New posts coming soon
Dunedin, New Zealand: More photos & blogs to come from there. (from January 2014)
MALAYSIAN BORNEO lots more blogs to come . . .
Borneo Jazz Festival: Miri, Sarawak, May 2014
Rainforest World Music Festival Sarawak June 2014
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Otago Peninsula was a volcano some 10 or 13 million years ago – give or take a week or three!
65-thousand years ago it became an island when sea levels rose and, more recently, it became a peninsula. Captain Cook and the hardy self-sufficient pioneers fought battles with the elements along the notorious 2000 kilometres coastline which is now scattered with shipwrecks.
The area is not just a day trip from Dunedin but a destination in its own right and during my ten days in Dunedin – traveling in a car from NZ RentaCar - and I spent time in Ngaio Cottage in Broad Bay.
This cottage, built in the 1930s, when my hosts, Julz Asher & Lutz Ritter, bought it I’m told ‘it looked very different’ to the charming, well-appointed accommodation it is today. ‘It was unlivable. In fact, everything is new – except a few boards,’ Lutz said.
The fittings and furniture were chosen with care, resulting in beautiful and tasteful atmosphere. I have no idea how many stars this place has, but I’d give it 4 or 5!
This is a fabulous place to stay and use as a base to explore the peninsula, and the Dunedin region – check out these photos.
I’m not the only one who rates Otago Peninsula:
- Neville Peat a local nature writer based in Broad Bay says the whole area is a ‘kind of supermarket for marine life, souped up by currents and adjacent deep-water canyons.
- Lonely Planet has Taiaroa Head listed in its Oct 2011 book ‘1000 Ultimate Sights’
- Botanist and environmentalist David Bellamy said the peninsula is ‘the finest example of ecotourism in the world’ while Mark Carwardine, zoologist and outspoken conservationist, writer, TV and radio presenter, wildlife photographer, columnist, best-selling author, a wildlife tour operator calls New Zealand a “wildlife hotspot”. He also says it’s one of the best places in the world to see great wildlife and recently he was on a whirlwind tour, searching for our equivalent to Africa’s ‘big five’, the New Zealand ‘small five’ – all endangered species: hector’s dolphin; kea, kiwi, tuatara, yellow-eyed penguin all which are found on or around this amazing outcrop of land.
I have written some stories about the area, and more to come about – albatross, penguins, castle, boat trips, fur seals, settlers museum, bus stops, birds, gardens, heritage city walks, the Taieri Gorge train, Chinese gardens, butterfly house and the Orokonui eco-sanctuary and more.
Sarawak’s first marine national park, Talang-Satang was established with the primary aim of conserving Sarawak’s marine turtle population. The park includes the coastline and sea around four islands in southwest Sarawak: this area has 95% of all turtle landings in Sarawak. I’m thrilled to stay overnight on two of them. One turtle arrived on the first island, ten on this one, Talang-Talang.
Marine turtles are amongst the world’s longest-lived creatures, but only about one in one thousand eggs grow to maturity about 30 to 50 years old!
Ten turtles arrive overnight and I watch as they laboriously dig the holes for the nest, lay about 80 eggs, cover them up and go back to sea. We then see the forestry staff carefully dig them up, record the details, and rebury them safe from predators.
I hope some of the sixty hatched eggs (that had been buried safely about 45 days earlier) that I was privilege to count into the release bucket, are among those very low odds and return to this island to complete the process.
My photos tell the story. (There are no overnight photos for 2 reasons – one, I wanted to just enjoy the experience and two, it’s hard to photograph at night with no flash allowed!)
A turtle may lay 10,000 eggs in her lifetime, but once they reach the sea, as few as 10 hatchlings will survive to reach maturity. Some don’t even get to the sea … ghost crabs and birds are always waiting for a meal to appear.
The Sarawak Forestry has conservation programmes at which volunteers can help (holidays with a purpose) : the eggs are either removed from nests and placed in guarded hatcheries, or left in place and guarded round the clock by Sarawak Forestry wardens. After 40 to 60 days incubation, young hatchlings are released at night to reduce losses from predators.
Please note: The Sarawak Sea Turtle Volunteer Programme is not suitable for everyone. Accommodation facilities are basic and everyone is expected to help with cooking and cleaning-up. Volunteers join a team of dedicated conservation experts whose mission is to monitor every turtle landing on the island and so help to preserve Sarawak’s natural heritage. Volunteers can expect a rewarding ‘Back to Nature’ experience but should bear in mind that the programme is not a beach holiday.
And here is a not very good video of ‘our turtle’ being released
I arrive on an island (Talang-Talang) to see where turtles are being studied and protected in the Tanjung Datu National Park, Sarawak. Malaysia.
This is just a heads up to let you know I will write this story within the next 24 hours … it was a very special two days and included watching turtles laying eggs and releasing babies that hatched that evening.
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The Rainforest World Music Festival has begun and this 17th event (#Sarawak, #Borneo) is the biggest so far.
* 22 bands
* 190 performers
* 27 workshops
The tree stage has been enlarged; a 3rd stage has been created as the ‘the theatre stage’ and this indoor, seated, more chamber music style, will have 2 bands performing each afternoon.
Another first is the RWMF Community Drum Circle which will be for an hour each late afternoon: I’ll check it out tomorrow!
Tonight the groups I’m particularly interested in are:
Kalakan – Basque country
Karinthalakoottam – India
Son Yambu – Cuba/UK
Will get back to you about the groups on my return to New Zealand!