Collaborative surveys of sea country undertaken with local sea rangers at Elcho Island and Nhulunbuy provided the highlight of our Northern Territory voyages, as agreed by all volunteers onboard Eviota. Gumurr Marthakal Rangers from Galiwinku, Elcho Island, and Dhimurru Rangers from Nhulunbuy came aboard to observe scientific survey methods in action, while our Reef Life Survey divers learnt a little of the depth of traditional knowledge covering local sea country. Both groups crossed into a different world on these days.
Our surveys were guided by the rangers, who directed us to the most interesting local sites. We now hope to monitor these sites by return trips through the future. Although none of the rangers had SCUBA qualifications and thus couldn’t join us on the seabed, all jumped in with snorkel, floating above and observing our progress along the transect tapes. Time passed quickly on the trip back to port while chatting about things newly seen, learnt and experienced. Many thanks to Gumurr Marthakal Rangers (Stephen Dhamarrandji, William Campbell, Heather Mitjangba, Timothy Dhurrakay, Mervin Garawirrtja, Marisa Burarrwanga, Vera York), Dhimurru Rangers (Fiona Marika, Brendan Gurruwiwi, Paul Augustin and Grace Wunungmurra), and fisheries officer Klaus Jeffery for facilitating and participating in these visits.