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CAT Day 8

Monday, May 20, 2013

As the day breaks we have a quick breakfast and start going on with our day. The first thing that is up is the Horizontal Falls. This I've got to see. It sounds fascinating.

The Horizontal Falls or Horizontal Waterfalls (nicknamed the "Horries") is the name given to a natural phenomenon on the coast of the Kimberley region in Western Australia.
Despite their name, the Horizontal Falls are a fast-moving tidal flow through two narrow, closely aligned gorges of the McLarty Range, located in Talbot Bay. The direction of the flow reverses with each change of tide. As tides in the Kimberley can reach 10 metres, a peak tide gives rise to a significant difference in the sea level on either side of each gorge.
The northern, most seaward gorge is 20 metres wide and the southern, more inland gorge is 12 metres. Above each of the gorges are natural reservoirs between six and eight kilometers long which fill and empty with seawater through the gorge openings. The inner gorge is also partly fed by fresh water from Poulton Creek.

So it's not actually a falls but a Tidal flow that is so fast that it looks like a fall.

Satellite Photo

As this took so long to get to it was the only thing we did today. It was well worth it though! Very amazing scenery.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IKACEY 5/21/2013 7:04AM

    Wow I love the pictures you showed in this one! I am always amazed at what you find in the places we go. Its got so many birds, wild flowers, and animals there that its hard to know just what to snap to show folks.
I never get tired of how blue the water is here. emoticon job!
IKacey co-leader of the Chair Exercise Team

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SEAWILLOW 5/21/2013 6:28AM


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TORTILLAFLATS 5/21/2013 1:58AM

    well done

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EMMABE1 5/20/2013 10:42PM

    Some good pictures, Its an interesting phenomenon - and amazing to see

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CAT Day 7

Monday, May 20, 2013

We wake up early and break our fast with a lovely meal. I chose some fruits, toast and marmite. We pack up our belongings and all get into our campers. We keep mixing up which one we are in so we can all have time with each other.

Today we leave Karijini National Park and traverse to Broome. I just love the names of the cities. We drive on up and enjoy the majestic scenery on the way.

The Yawuru people, the Traditional Owners and Custodians, welcome you to Broome. A welcoming of people onto country is culturally important to Yawuru people to sustain Mabujunu Liyarn (Good Feeling) between both visitors and Traditional Owners. Our land is very ancient and covers vast areas from Wirkinmirre (WillieCreek) in the north: south through Minyirr (Broome) and east past Mangalagun (Crab Creek) and south to Warrawan (Barn Hill). We trust that you will all have a great time and enjoy the unique cultural diversity Broome has to offer. We further wish those visitors a safe journey in their future travels. Garlia! (see you soon)

The town has an interesting history based around the exploits of the men and women who developed the pearling industry, starting with the harvesting of oysters for mother of pearl in the 1880s to the current major cultured pearl farming enterprises. The riches from the pearl beds did not come cheaply, and the town's Japanese cemetery is the resting place of 919 Japanese divers who lost their lives working in the industry. Many more were lost at sea, and the exact number of deaths is unknown. The Japanese were only one of the major ethnic groups who flocked to Broome to work on the luggers or the shore based activities supporting the harvesting of oysters from the waters around Broome. They were specialist divers and, despite being considered enemies, became an indispensable part of the industry until World War II.

A lugger is a class of boats, widely used as traditional fishing boats, particularly off the coasts of France, England and Scotland. It is a small sailing vessel with lugsails set on two or more masts and perhaps lug topsails.

Each year Broome celebrates this fusion of different cultures in an annual cultural festival called Shinju Matsuri (Japanese for festival of the pearl) which celebrates the Asian influenced culture brought here by the pearling industry.

Broome was attacked at least four times by Japanese aircraft during the Second World War, and the worst attack was the March 3rd, 1942 air raid in which at least 88 people (mostly civilians) were killed.

The West Australian mining boom of the 1960s, as well as the growth of the tourism industry, also helped Broome develop and diversify. Broome is one of the fastest growing towns in Australia.

At Gantheaume Point and 30 m out to sea are dinosaur footprints dated as Early Cretaceous in age (approximately 130 million years ago). The tracks can be seen only during very low tide. Plant fossils are also preserved extensively in the Broome Sandstone at Gantheaume Point and in coastal exposures further north.

Broome entered into a sister city agreement with Taiji, Japan in 1981 as historic ties between the two towns date back to the early 1900s, when Japan became instrumental in laying the groundwork of Broome's pearling industry.

Cable Beach is named in honour of the Java-to-Australia undersea telegraph cable which reaches shore here, Cable Beach is situated 7 km from town. The beach itself is 22.5 km long with beautiful white sand, washed clean daily by tides that can reach over 9 m. The water is crystal clear turquoise, and the gentle swells hardly manage to topple over as they roll up onto the almost perfectly flat beach. Caution, however, is required when swimming from November through March as box jellyfish are present during those months. There have been cases where crocodiles have been sighted off the shore, but this is a rarity and measures are taken to prevent these situations. Four wheel drive vehicles may be driven onto the beach from the car park. This allows people to explore the beach at low tide to a much greater extent than would be possible on foot. Sunset camel rides operate daily along the beach.

Box Jellyfish

Cable Beach is home to one of Australia's most famous nudist beaches. The clothes optional area is to the north of the beach access road from the car park and continues to the mouth of Willie Creek, 17 km away.

Sorry no picture for this one! emoticon

We continue on to Beagle Bay to see what it has to offer. The community was established by Trappist Monks around 1890. The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.: Ordo Cisterciensis Strictioris Observantiae) is a Roman Catholic religious order of cloistered contemplative monastics who follow the Rule of St. Benedict. A branch of the Order of Cistercians, they have communities of both monks and nuns, commonly referred to as Trappists and Trappistines, respectively. The spirit of St. Benedict's Rule is summed up in the motto of the Benedictine Confederation: pax ("peace") and the traditional ora et labora ("pray and work").

Beagle Bay has a history of caring for stolen children. In 1884, the first ever priest arrived to serve the Catholics in the Kimberley to try and convert the Aboriginal people. Bishop Matthew Gibney founded the Beagle Bay mission, developed in the land of the Nyul Nyul people; this became a site for the Aboriginal people in 1890. The first Catholic School was established by the Trappist Fathers at Beagle Bay in 1892. In 1895, the Trappist monks of Sep Fons in France, extend their missionary work from Beagle Bay to Broome. In 1901, Pallottine Fathers from Germany took over Beagle Bay Mission with two priests and four brothers. In 1907, the St John of God Sisters began to run a mission school at Beagle Bay and in 1918 the famous church was opened. It features a pearl shell altar which is now a tourist attraction. The Beagle Bay Mission subsequently became home to Indigenous people from across the Kimberley and further afield.

After a wonderful time at Beagle Bay we go to one of my favorite places to go to. A Pearl Shop. It's not just a shop it is a whole factory from growing the pearls to setting them into jewelry. We all go on the coach tour since it's not that much more than the drive yourself one and we don't have 4 wheel drive vehicles. One of the more interesting thing that I learned is the 5 virtues of Pearls. It goes like this.

It is often said that you don’t choose the pearl, the pearl chooses you. There are five virtues to a pearl and they are size, shape, colour, surface and lustre. Whatever your preference you should always look for excellence in surface and lustre – the two most important characteristics. Size, shape and colour are a matter of personal choice and reflect individual style and personality.

I believe both of these would fit my style quite nicely. Now just to figure out the money part. Hmmm. Anyone have a few thousand they don't need?

Afterwards we visit the Malcom Douglas Wildlife Park. Malcolm Douglas was an Australian wildlife documentary film maker, and crocodile hunter. Douglas started in the 1960s as a professional crocodile hunter and farmer, but later dedicated himself to their preservation.

It is in his honor that this park was completed. He had another park but was in the process of transitioning to the park in Broome when he died suddenly in a car accident. His family after much debate amongst themselves decided to go ahead with this new park. We are luck they did. It is a wonderful park fulling of education to the public about the crocodiles. Both inland ones and salt water ones. Or Freshies and Salties as they are called.

Salt Water Croc

Cute Fresh Water Croc

Close up of a Fresh Water Croc Eye

Doesn't the close up of the eye look like a dinosaurs eye? Well that is because the Crocodile has been around since the time of the Dinosaurs. Just like the sharks. Amazing since humans have been around a lot less time than them. The eye is very cool looking though.

After the wild life park we go back to Cable Beach for our camel ride. Watch out because they spit. Then we all go back to our camp site and have a great dinner and soon are all tuckered out and ready for bed so we can get up early and look about at some more that Broome has to offer.

Patty emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EMMABE1 5/20/2013 3:00PM

    emoticon Good blog again Patty
The Church is very lovely - and probably the only one like it.
The pearl industry was a very dangerous industry - many people were lost in the early days diving for pearls.

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LJCANNON 5/20/2013 9:11AM

    emoticon I've always LOVED Pearls but until now I never realized how Dangerous Pearl Farming could be. As far as the Prices, have you checked out the Spark Credit Card? It has a Virtually Unlimited Credit Line which works well with this Virtual Trip!!
The Church was BEAUTIFUL and Very Inspirational. I loved seeing it.
emoticon The Camel Rides were FUN but you are Right - You have to watch the Spitting!!!
Great Blog!!

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SKMINNY 5/20/2013 7:45AM

    oh , wow you are so lucky to see such lovely things, i liked your blog very much! emoticon

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SEAWILLOW 5/20/2013 7:10AM

    Love the info on the pearl..may not retain all of it but very welcome info!

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CAT Day 6

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What a wonderful nights sleep. I do love my beds. Breakfast was wonderful and really filling. After breakfast we went treking in the Park. The first place we went was the Visitor Center.

The Karijini Visitor Center, was opened on June 22, 2001. The design of the building represents a goanna moving through the country and is symbolic to local Banyjima Aboriginal people. The tail represents their history, the head the future direction of the traditional owners, and Aboriginal Law is in the center or stomach. The high, weathered steel walls of the visitor center mimic the sheet-sided gorges that are a feature of the park.

The building is designed to withstand the fires that are a regular feature of the area. The construction materials, lack of openings and minimal places to trap debris, all help reduce the threat of fire entering or damaging the building.

Inside, the visitor center interprets the natural and cultural history of the area. A range of static and interactive displays take you on a journey of places and people, past and present, through stories of geology, plants, animals and Aboriginal people and their culture.

The center provides employment opportunities for local Aboriginal people and gives visitors a chance to speak with them and learn about their association with the land.

I had a fantastic time talking with the local people and learning more about their beliefs. I was spell bound. I really didn't want to leave there but I wanted to stay with the group. So I left knowing I could go back tomorrow.

At Dales Gorge we find tranquil sunken gardens, deep sedge-fringed pools, and permanently cascading waterfalls. I'm so happy that there are a few walks here of varying difficulties.

The easiest walk is the Gorge rim which is a 2km walk and is about 2 hours return. To get to this walk we first go to the Circular Pool. We walk around it looking at all the beautiful scenery and snapping pictures all the while.

White barked snappy gums grow in the caprock of the gorge and shady groves of native cypress shelter on the cliff face beneath the track. This walk offers gorgeous glimpses into Dales Gorge with amazing colours especially at sunset.

We then decide to take the slightly harder walk which is the Fortescue Falls track. It is 800m and takes about 1 hour return. This track is a bit more difficult because we need to negotiate steps and a narrow trail to the waterfall. We come around the last bend and have a great view.

Not far from Fortescue Falls is the beautiful Fern Pool. Here you can have a refreshing swim in the spring fed permanent falls. You’ll feel like you’re in a tropical paradise at this pool surrounded by ferns and trees. Park managers have erected a wooden swimming platform with stairs, so water access is easy. Make sure you sit under the permanently cascading waterfall where water is warm and showerlike. Be wary in the cooler months (April-September) as the water can be bitterly cold and there is a risk of hyperthermia if you stay in too long. As you descend on your walk you’ll notice the vegetation changes and becomes more dense and tropical, while the iron-ore rich gorge walls become deep red and purple in color. After a refreshing dip in the water we are so energized we decide to take in some of the Gorges!

In Joffre Gorge, one can truly appreciate the power of water shaping the landscape. The gorge hosts impressive waterfalls, deep pools and breath-taking views.

Joffre Lookout is an easy walk that is just 100m and 10 minutes return. This walk is a must as you take the rock steps down to the lookout to view this spectacular curved waterfall forming a natural amphitheatre. The view is especially impressive after rain.

Knox lookout is another spectacular lookout just a short trip north up Joffre Road from the Joffre lookout. This walk is 300m and 15 minutes return. Take the steps down to the lookout and watch the views spread out in the distance. This view is especially good in the early morning or late afternoon light. We ended up here in the late afternoon just as the light was the best! The colors were spectacular and we all posed and took pictures.

The more difficult walks are the Knox Gorge and Joffre Falls tracks. We end up taking The Joffre Falls track. This one is a 3km, 3 hour return track that takes you to the bottom of Joffre Gorge to the first pool downstream of the waterfall. What a sight!

The last gorge we saw was the Weano Gorge. A short walk into Weano Gorge brings you to Handrail Pool, which is great for swimming. We all took one last dip and had a great time splashing each other and swimming getting in a different exercise other than walking or hiking. We all had a great time and eventually we got dressed and went back to our campers.

On our way back we came across this little guy.

Well ok this BIG guy! We all gave him a healthy space and hurried back to our campers. That was quite exciting. We kept watching him until he finally went out of view.

We went back to our campsites and settled in talking all about the day and all the sights we saw. It was very interesting to see the different colors in all the gorges and throughout the day. The different lighting throughout the day showed all the great minerals in the walls.

Since I was walking so much today I started falling asleep in my chair. So I went to bed dreaming of all the colors and patterns in the gorges we had just saw today.

Patty emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SEAWILLOW 5/18/2013 7:50AM

    Absolutely beautiful pictures!

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IKACEY 5/18/2013 6:35AM

    Another good travel blog! As usual you have great pics, my favorites are at the different gorges with all their brilliant colors, and the pic just above the reptile. Nice job emoticon
IKacey co-leader of the Chair Exercise Team

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EMMABE1 5/18/2013 1:37AM

    Another good blog about a fascinating area

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CAT Day 5

Friday, May 17, 2013

Oh my these early mornings are really getting to me. I'm really not a morning person. But at least I don't have to drive yet. I'm sure at some point I'll be asked. lol I'm just not used to driving on the left as yet. I can't wait to see the mine. I've been to 5 different mines in the US but I've never been to this type of mine.

The Mount Tom Price mine is an iron ore mine located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, near Tom Price.

The mine is fully owned and operated by Rio Tinto Iron Ore and is one of twelve iron ore mines the company operates in the Pilbara. The Pilbara is a large, dry, thinly populated region in the north of Western Australia known for its Aboriginal peoples, its stunning landscapes, the red earth and its vast mineral deposits, in particular iron ore. In the calendar year 2009, the combined Pilbara operations produced 202 million tons of iron ore. The Pilbara operations accounted for almost 13 percent of the world's 2009 iron ore production of 1.59 billion tons.

The Hamersley Range, where the mine is located, contains 80 percent of all identified iron ore reserves in Australia and is one of the world's major iron ore provinces. Rio Tinto's iron ore operations in the Pilbara began in 1966, with the Mount Tom Price mine opening that year. Mount Tom Price was the companies first mine to open in the Pilbara. The mine has an annual production capacity of 28 million tonnes of iron ore, sourced from open-pit operations. The ore is processed on site before being loaded onto rail. Ore from Mount Tom Price is transported as lump and fines ore product from the mines to Dampier via rail. Before being loaded onto ships for export, the product is blended and rescreened. The maximum size for the lumps is 31.5 mm, while the fines are at a maximum of 6.3 mm.

Ore from the mine is then transported to the coast through the Hamersley & Robe River railway, where it is loaded onto ships. The mines workforce is residential and lives in Tom Price. In the calendar year 2009, the mine employed 1,515 people, a decrease in comparison to 2008, when it employed 1,701.

The equipment is on a scale that makes our jaws drop! We are not even half the height of one tire. The boys with their toys though. Looking down those huge trucks, scoops and drills look like ants. They remind me of tinker toys that young kids play with. Knowing the actual size of the equipment makes it just that much more impressive to us all!

After we are finished gawking we all load back up in our tiny looking campers and get back on the road. We are headed to Karijini National Park.

The National Park is centered in the Hamersley Ranges of the Pilbara region in northwestern Western Australia. The Hamersley Ranges is a mountainous region of the Pilbara, Western Australia. The range runs from the Fortescue River in the northeast, 460 km south. The range contains Western Australia's highest point, Mount Meharry, which reaches approximately 1,249 meters. There are many extensively-eroded gorges, such as Wittenoom Gorge. The twenty highest peaks in Western Australia are in the Hamersley Range. Geologically, they are some of the most ancient regions of the earth's crust known as the Pilbara craton.

It is just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, approximately 1,055 kilometers from the State's capital city. It was formerly known as Hamersley National Park. At 627,442 hectares, it is the second largest national park in Western Australia (Karlamilyi National Park is larger). The park is physically split into a northern and a southern half by a corridor containing the Hamersley & Robe River railway and the Marandoo iron ore mine.

A party led by explorer F.T. Gregory explored the area in 1861. He named the Hamersley Range, on which the park is centered, after his friend Edward Hamersley.

The park is located in the Pilbara region, and is mostly tropical semi-arid climate. In summer, thunderstorms and cyclones are common, bringing 250–350 mm of rain annually. Temperatures on summer days frequently exceed 40 degrees Celsius, while winter nights can bring frost.

The five gorges that flow north out of the park, the Bee Gorge, Wittenoom Gorge, Kalamina Gorge, Yampire Gorge, and Dales Gorge provide spectacular displays of the rock layers.

Banded iron formation (BIF) - Brockman iron formation

Banded iron formations (also known as banded ironstone formations or BIFs) are distinctive units of sedimentary rock that are almost always of Precambrian age. A typical BIF consists of repeated, thin layers (a few millimeters to a few centimeters in thickness) of silver to black iron oxides, either magnetite (Fe3O4) or hematite (Fe2O3), alternating with bands of iron-poor shales and cherts, often red in color, of similar thickness, and containing microbands (sub-millimeter) of iron oxides. Some of the oldest known rock formations, formed over 3,700 million years ago, include banded iron layers. Banded layers rich in iron were a common feature in sediments for much of the Earth's early history but are now rare.

Dolomite - Wittenoom dolomite

Dolomite is a carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate CaMg(CO3)2. The term is also used to describe the sedimentary carbonate rock dolostone. Dolostone (dolomite rock) is composed predominantly of the mineral dolomite with a stoichiometric ratio of 50% or greater content of magnesium replacing calcium, often as a result of diagenesis. Diagenesis is changes to sediment or sedimentary rocks during and after rock formation (lithification), at temperatures and pressures less than that required for the formation of metamorphic rocks or melting. Limestone that is partially replaced by dolomite is referred to as dolomitic limestone, or in old U.S. geologic literature as magnesian limestone.

Shale - Mount McRae Shale

Shale is a fine-grained, clastic sedimentary rock composed of mud that is a mix of flakes of clay minerals and tiny fragments (silt-sized particles) of other minerals, especially quartz and calcite. The ratio of clay to other minerals is variable. Shale is characterized by breaks along thin laminae or parallel layering or bedding less than one centimeter in thickness, called fissility. Mudstones, on the other hand, are similar in composition but do not show the fissility.

The park is most notable for its four prominent gorges marked by waterfalls and water holes. The park's wildlife includes red kangaroos, euros, wallaroos, echidnas, geckos, goannas, bats, legless lizards and a large variety of birds and snakes, including pythons.

We also go visit Hamersley Gorge. The Rocks exposed in the gorges of Karijini National Park originated as fine grained sediment which accumulated on an ancient sea floor 2,500 million years ago. At this time, the atmosphere contained much less oxygen and the only forms of life were simple bacteria and algae. Many of these sediments laid down in the oceans were rich in iron and silica.

Over hundreds of millions of years, the iron-rich deposits were transformed by the pressure of further sediments laid down over them, and they gradually turned into tough well-bedded rock. The gorges were eroded when a sharp drop in sea level caused the rivers to erode the landscape rapidly — a process enhanced by the onset of a more arid climate, which depleted the protective vegetation cover on the valley sides.

We all pack back into our campers and drive to the EcoKarijini Campsite. It is just cute and we all get settled and take a hike.

When we get back we find someone has left us wine and food to eat. That was so thoughtful of them.

After we all partake in the wine and food we make it an early night tired from the last couple of days travel. I'm so excited to go hiking around looking into all the gorges around here.

I ended up with 1030 steps because I found a great knee brace in Exmouth! emoticon It won't fix my knee but it does make it feel better than without it.

Patty emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IKACEY 5/18/2013 5:32AM

    I alway like the information I gain from your blogs plus you have some terrific piccys of the mine and mineral deposits. Who knew the gorges would have so much color? Excellent blog emoticon
IKacey co-leader of the Chair Exercise Team

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LJCANNON 5/17/2013 1:30PM

    emoticon LOVED the Mine!! For some reason I was Not Expecting it to have so many pretty colors?! It really was astounding and you did a Great Job of capturing how BIG the machinery was. The wine was an AWESOME Surprise at the end, LOL!! I am glad that the Calories were Virtual!!

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EMMABE1 5/17/2013 3:57AM

    Great- a knee brace will give you support during the healing time!!
Good blog - interesting facts about the mine - but its a busy noisy place - however it brings in money for Australia

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CAT Day 4

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Phew! Woke up just in time to go swimming with the Whale Sharks. They are so fascinating! But first a bit about Exmouth.

The town was established in 1967 to support the nearby United States Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt. Beginning in the late 1970s, the town began hosting U.S. Air Force personnel assigned to Learmonth Solar Observatory, a defence science facility jointly operated with Australia's Ionospheric Prediction Service.

The location was first used as a military base in World War II. After the retreat from Java in March 1942, Allied naval forces had need of a forward base for replenishing submarines, then the sole form of offensive warfare against the Japanese. Both Darwin, Northern Territory, and Broome, Western Australia, were too exposed to air attack, so a 500-ton unmotorized lighter was placed as a refueling barge near the mouth of Exmouth Gulf, where the Allies were already maintaining a seaplane tender. A seaplane tender (or seaplane carrier) is a ship that provides facilities for operating seaplanes. These ships were the first aircraft carriers and appeared just before the First World War.

Code-named Potshot, the spartan base was also developed as an advanced base and rest camp for submariners using the tender USS Pelias. An airfield (now RAAF Learmonth) was constructed to provide fighter defense for the base. Z Special Unit used Potshot as a staging base for Operation Jaywick in September 1943. Operation Jaywick was a special operation undertaken in World War II. In September 1943, 14 commandos and sailors from the Z Special Unit raided Japanese shipping in Singapore Harbour, sinking seven ships.

Z Special Unit (also known as Special Operations Executive (SOE), Special Operations Australia (SOA) or the Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD)) was a joint Allied special forces unit formed during the Second World War to operate behind Japanese lines in South East Asia. Predominantly Australian, Z Special Unit was a specialist reconnaissance and sabotage unit that included British, Dutch, New Zealand, Timorese and Indonesian members, predominantly operating on Borneo and the islands of the former Netherlands East Indies.

Nowadays the town relies more on tourism than the station for its existence. At the height of the tourist season the population swells to 6000. Exmouth is one of the few areas in Australia that can boast the "Range to Reef" experience. The Cape Range National Park which has some spectacular gorges is an area of 506 square kilometres and its main area is focused on the west coast of the Cape which provides a large variety of camp sites on the coastal fringe of the Park.

With that the Whale Sharks are waiting for us. Not really but it would be nice to think so. lol

The whale shark, Rhincodon typus, is a slow-moving filter feeding shark and the largest known extant fish species. The largest confirmed individual had a length of 12.65 meters and a weight of more than 21.5 metric tons, and there are unconfirmed reports of considerably larger whale sharks. Claims of individuals over 14 meters long and weighing at least 30 metric tons are not uncommon. The whale shark holds many records for sheer size in the animal kingdom, most notably being by far the largest living non-mammalian vertebrate, rivaling many of the largest dinosaurs in weight. It is the sole member of the genus Rhincodon and the family, Rhincodontidae (called Rhiniodon and Rhinodontidae before 1984), which belongs to the subclass Elasmobranchii in the class Chondrichthyes. The species originated approximately 60 million years ago.

The whale shark is found in tropical and warm oceans and lives in the open sea with a lifespan of about 70 years. Although whale sharks have very large mouths, as filter feeders they feed mainly, though not exclusively, on plankton, which are microscopic plants and animals. However, the BBC program Planet Earth filmed a whale shark feeding on a school of small fish. The same documentary showed footage of a whale shark timing its arrival to coincide with the mass spawning of fish shoals and feeding on the resultant clouds of eggs and sperm.

The species was distinguished in April 1828 after the harpooning of a 4.6 meters specimen in Table Bay, South Africa. The name "whale shark" comes from the fish's physiology, being as large as some species of whales and also a filter feeder like baleen whales.

The whale shark inhabits all tropical and warm-temperate seas. Primarily pelagic, seasonal feeding aggregations occur at several coastal sites such as the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia among several others. Although typically seen offshore, it has been found closer to land, entering lagoons or coral atolls, and near the mouths of estuaries and rivers. Its range is generally restricted to about ±30° latitude. It is capable of diving to depths of at least 1,286 meters, and is migratory.

As a filter feeder it has a capacious mouth which can be up to 1.5 meters wide and contains 10 filter pads and between 300 and 350 rows of tiny teeth. It has five large pairs of gills. Two small eyes are located towards the front of the shark's wide, flat head. The body is mostly grey with a white belly; three prominent ridges run along each side of the animal and the skin is marked with a checkerboard of pale yellow spots and stripes. These spots are unique to each individual and are useful for counting populations. Its skin can be up to 10 centimeters thick. The shark has a pair each of dorsal fins and pectoral fins. Juveniles' tails have a larger upper than lower fin while the adult tail becomes semi-lunate (crescent-shaped). Spiracles are just behind the eyes.

The whale shark is a filter feeder – one of only three known filter feeding shark species (along with the basking shark and the megamouth shark). It feeds on macro-algae, plankton, krill, Christmas Island red crab larvae and small nektonic life such as small squid or vertebrates. It also feeds on small fish and the clouds of eggs and sperm during mass spawning of fish shoals. The many rows of vestigial teeth play no role in feeding. Feeding occurs either by ram filtration, in which the animal opens its mouth and swims forward, pushing water and food into the mouth, or by active suction feeding, in which the animal opens and closes its mouth, sucking in volumes of water that are then expelled through the gills. In both cases, the filter pads serve to separate food from water. These unique, black sieve-like structures are presumed to be modified gill rakers. Food separation in whale sharks is by cross-flow filtration, in which the water travels nearly parallel to the filter pad surface, not perpendicularly through it, before passing to the outside, while denser food particles continue to the back of the throat. This is an extremely efficient filtration method that minimises fouling of the filter pad surface. Whale sharks have been observed "coughing" and it is presumed that this is a method of clearing a build-up of particles from the filter pads. Whale sharks migrate to feed and possibly to breed.

The whale shark is an active feeder, targeting concentrations of plankton or fish. It is able to ram filter feed or can gulp in a stationary position. This is in contrast to the passive feeding basking shark, which does not pump water. Instead, it swims to force water across its gills.

Despite its size, the whale shark does not pose significant danger to humans. Although massive, whale sharks are docile fish and sometimes allow swimmers to catch a ride, although this practice is discouraged by shark scientists and conservationists. Younger whale sharks are actually quite gentle and can play with divers.

Neither mating nor pupping of whale sharks has been observed. The capture of a female in July 1996 who was pregnant with 300 pups indicates that whale sharks are ovoviviparous. The eggs remain in the body and the females give birth to live young which are 40 to 60 centimeters long. There is evidence that the pups are not all born at once, but rather that the female retains sperm from one mating and produces a steady stream of pups over a prolonged period. It is believed that they reach sexual maturity at around 30 years and the life span is an estimated 70 to 100 years.

Known as a deity in a Vietnamese culture, the whale shark is called "Ca Ong", which literally translates as "Sir Fish".

After a lovely swim with the Whale Sharks I decided I needed to rest my knee and went on the Ningaloo Glass Bottom Boat. It was so fun and such a learning opportunity.

The Ningaloo Reef is a fringing coral reef located off the north west coast of Western Australia. The reef is 260 km long and is Australia's largest fringing coral reef and the only large reef positioned very close to a landmass.

A fringing reef is one of the three main types of coral reefs recognized by most coral reef scientists. It is distinguished from the other two main types (barrier reefs and atolls) in that it has either an entirely shallow backreef zone (lagoon) or none at all. If a fringing reef grows directly from the shoreline (see photo, below) the reef flat extends right to the beach and there is no backreef. In other cases (e.g., most of The Bahamas), fringing reefs may grow hundreds of yards from shore and contain extensive backreef areas with numerous seagrass meadows and patch reefs.

This type of coral reef is the most common type of reef found in the Caribbean and Red Sea. Darwin believed that fringing reefs are the first kind of reefs to form around a landmass in a long-term reef growth process.

It is known for its seasonal feeding concentrations of the whale shark, and the conservation debate surrounding its potential tourism development. In 1987 the reef and surrounding waters were designated as the Ningaloo Marine Park. In 2011 the reef and surrounding areas were world heritage listed by the United Nations.

The reef is rich in coral and other marine life. During the winter months, the reef is part of the migratory routes for dolphins, dugongs, manta rays and humpback whales. The beaches of the reef are an important breeding ground of the loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles. They also depend on the reef for nesting and food. The Ningaloo supports an abundance of fish (500 species), corals (300 species), molluscs (600 species) and many other marine invertebrates. The reef is less than half a kilometre offshore in some areas, such as Coral Bay.

In 2006, researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science discovered in the marine park’s deeper waters gardens of sponges that are thought to be species completely new to science.

It was so great to see the reefs and different fish under the glass bottom. It also gave those of us who didn't want to snorkel a chance to see the wild life as well.

After we got off the boat it was dinner time so we got a quick meal and hurried to see the turtles laying their eggs!

The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), or loggerhead, is an oceanic turtle distributed throughout the world. It is a marine reptile, belonging to the family Cheloniidae. The average loggerhead measures around 90 cm long when fully grown, although larger specimens of up to 280 cm have been discovered. The adult loggerhead sea turtle weighs approximately 135 kg, with the largest specimens weighing in at more than 450 kg. The skin ranges from yellow to brown in color, and the shell is typically reddish-brown. No external differences in gender are seen until the turtle becomes an adult, the most obvious difference being the adult males have thicker tails and shorter plastrons than the females.

The loggerhead sea turtle is found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. It spends most of its life in saltwater and estuarine habitats, with females briefly coming ashore to lay eggs. The loggerhead sea turtle has a low reproductive rate; females lay an average of four egg clutches and then become quiescent, producing no eggs for two to three years. The loggerhead reaches sexual maturity within 17–33 years and has a lifespan of 47–67 years.

The loggerhead sea turtle is omnivorous, feeding mainly on bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Its large and powerful jaws serve as an effective tool for dismantling its prey. Young loggerheads are exploited by numerous predators; the eggs are especially vulnerable to terrestrial organisms. Once the turtles reach adulthood, their formidable size limits predation to large marine animals, such as sharks.

Loggerheads are considered an endangered species and are protected by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Untended fishing gear is responsible for many loggerhead deaths. Turtles may also suffocate if they are trapped in fishing trawls. Turtle excluder devices have been implemented in efforts to reduce mortality by providing an escape route for the turtles. Loss of suitable nesting beaches and the introduction of exotic predators have also taken a toll on loggerhead populations. Efforts to restore their numbers will require international cooperation, since the turtles roam vast areas of ocean and critical nesting beaches are scattered across several countries.

It was such a great day. I ended up only taking 911 steps but I have to take it easy on my knee. So I was a good girl today. With all that we did today I'm exhausted. I do know that the sea air makes one tired. I don't know why but it does. So with this I'm going to go watch some Tele and go to sleep.

Patty emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IKACEY 5/16/2013 4:03AM

    Lovely blog! Lots of factoids and beautiful pictures! The best thing you can do for in pain is take it easier and take your meds. You can work on it more when that knee is recovered. Until then gentle seated exercise and pain meds and distracting yourself, like blogging are all going to be a big help getting thru this emoticon
IKacey co-leader of the Chair Exercise Team

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SNOWTGRR 5/16/2013 1:56AM

    Oops. Sorry about the turtle mix up. emoticon Can I claim pain meds?

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TORTILLAFLATS 5/16/2013 1:28AM

    great blog Pattie

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EMMABE1 5/16/2013 12:54AM

    Great blog - one slight problem - the turtles that mostly lay in that area of West Australia are Flatbacked Marine Turtles - rather than Loggerheads.
We tend to get a lot of Loggerheads on the Eastern side of Australia

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