Few people can say they’ve seen a baby sea turtle hatch. The marine reptile usually lays its eggs beneath the sand, where it is cool and out of sight of predators.
11-year-old turtle expert Natalie Ephraims considers herself pretty lucky to have witnessed the event up close. We caught up with Natalie to talk snorkelling, sleeping at sea and the best bits about her turtle-themed holiday to Brisbane and Lady Musgrave Island.
“It was really cool,” says Natalie, about watching them hatch at Brisbane’s Queensland Museum. “They had the turtles in boxes so that you could see through the sand. I really enjoyed watching the turtles hatching because it’s not what you usually get to see.”
Natalie, who is a Reef Guardian at her school, said that while she loved seeing turtle hatchlings run to the ocean on Mon Repos beach and enjoyed a guided boat tour of the reef, her overall highlight was swimming beside the gentle creatures in the wild. Nestled in the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Musgrave Island and its warm waters are perfect for such wildlife encounters.
“It was really cool that we got to snorkel and explore Lady Musgrave without anyone else,” Natalie says. “We were the only ones there. I learnt about how they take care of the reef. I learnt about the different species of turtles and how to tell them apart using their different colours and gaits. Green turtles run faster and loggerheads are the slowest.”
Natalie and her mum were able to enjoy the brand-new Reef Sleep experience, spending the night aboard a small catamaran off the coast of the island.
“The boat that we slept on was awesome. It had four bedrooms which were really close to the water, and an upper deck and back lounge area. If you walked around to the front of the boat, you could jump off into the water.”
Eco-tourism is growing in popularity for holidaying families. The chance to immerse in nature, see animals in the wild and get active outdoors attracts intrepid broods of all ages.
Natalie urges other families to consider Great Barrier Reef getaways like hers.
“Other families would definitely enjoy a trip like this. I think there was a little bit of something for everybody. Even if you were younger than 5 and didn’t understand most of it, you’d love running up and down the beach and having fun!”
Natalie and her Mum were hosted by Tourism and Events Queensland. If you liked this story, read about another island stay on the Great Barrier Reef at Lady Elliot Island.