Nature's War Zone

2012, Nature  -  50 min Leave a Comment
Rating from 1 user
Report Documentary


3 min read

Out of the sands of a desert island, new life emerges from the remnants of the dead. Birthplace to a race of ancient reptiles, its beaches are an inferno, too deadly to linger on. Where the only escape leads pass the jaws of a monster. Every year, the epic struggle of the Pacific Green Sea Turtles turns this remote and protected spec of sand into nature's war zone. An island strewn with bleached bones makes an eerie cradle for new life. More green turtles nest there than in any other place on earth.

Every year it is as if their ancestors call them back. These Pacific Green Sea Turtles are returning to a place that many of them haven't seen since they were born. For some it's a migration of two-and-a-half thousand kilometers, 1500 miles, from their feeding grounds in the warm shallow waters to the north and northeast of Australia. They may already have been traveling for over a year. Guided by their own magnetic compass, and triggered by the urge to breed, sea turtles have been migrating across the seas for over 100 million years.

Along the way males and females find each other and begin the process of courtship. The males’ part in this timeless ritual will be over once they have mated with as many females as they can. Then they will return to their feeding grounds, but for females the battle to bring forth new life is only just beginning. In about a month they will be ready to go ashore and lay their eggs. Success and survival depend on numbers. They store enough sperm to lay several clutches over the next three months. As they approach their nesting ground they're properly guided by the distinctive scent of home.

Their date with destiny brings them to a remote and protected island at the top of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. There sits a coral and sand cay called "Rain Island." Why should this scrap of land attract more green turtles than any other place on earth? There at the edge of the Continental Shelf, tidal currents bring deep nutrient rich water up to the surface of the Great Barrier Reef. These rich waters sustain a multitude of marine plankton and fish, more abundant than in most tropical waters. The currents that nourish them help disburse the young into the Coral Sea and beyond to the deep Pacific Ocean. It's an ideal place to launch offspring into the world. As Sergeant Fish dash together to spawn, the water is literally alive.

All this life attracts predators. There's a year around population of Reef Sharks that find prey and shelter among Rain Island's coral slopes, and even large open water sharks cruise there.