I Can Get Used To Island Living.
As I wrote in my previous post, “Pinch Me Now I Must Be Dreaming” I am staying on Orpheus Island for 4 days (3 nights), and volunteering to do tasks around the island. This post focuses on my experiences from day 2.
Saturday Morning I woke up to the sounds of cockatoos and and other Australian bird songs. I brewed a cup of coffee, and enjoyed breakfast on the porch of the communal facilities which housed an enormous stocked kitchen. It was attached to the bath house that has 6 composting toilets, and hot open air showers supplied with rain water from the many rain catchment vessels around the sight. The agreement is that I volunteer 4 hours each day in exchange for housing, and the 40 minute boat ride to the island.
The majority of my volunteer time was spent on the noxious pest eradication program. Orpheus Island Research Station controls four noxious weeds and one noxious pest within the site on Orpheus Island. These invasive weeds pose a serious threat to Australia’s natural environment, second only to habitat loss. Weeds are removed by hand, bagged and barged off the island every three months. Cane toads are collected by hand, bagged and frozen. I saw a freezer full of cane toads but the majority of my time was spent pulling weeds since it is winter and the cane toads were not active.
I scheduled my work around the tides, and when would be the best time to go snorkeling. When the tide is going out the visibility is better, and the coral is more accessible to snorkelers, but you have to get over the reef before low tide so you don’t scrape or step on any of the live coral.
The research station is located in a protected bay, and the shore is lined with mangrove trees. At high tide you can see sting rays and black tipped reef sharks cruising around the mangrove roots. At low tide you can walk out about 200 meters and see many shells, coral, and even giant clams! I learned in the induction not to pick up the cone shells as they have a complex neuro-toxin that is very dangerous. Since it is winter we didn’t have to worry as much about the jelly fish. Everyone on the island except me saw a pod of humpback whales. I was too busy weeding. I did see three Manta Rays. It was hard to estimate the size because they were far off, but the oceanic Manta’s can get as big as 7 meters. It was awesome to see!
If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering on Orpheus Island check out the link.