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November 2019 on the Great Barrier Reef

The Ocean Calendar

Captain Trevor Jackson

“What are the tides Daddy”? It’s an easy enough question to answer to an adult… but when your three-year-old son asks from the back seat of the car, surprisingly, things get tricky. No point trying to explain gravity and orbital mechanics in this instance…so I had to think on my feet. “The tides are like the ocean breathing darling, a big breath in and all the water flows in toward the land, then breathe out and it rushes back out to sea” I pondered my cleverness for a second, but my self-congratulatory moment was short-lived…the six-year-old chimed in with a doozie. “Dad how do Minkes know when to come back each year?”. “Well that’s easy honey, they just check out the ocean calendar”…”The Ocean Calendar?!! What’s that?”

So now I was in a pickle, my bluff had been called and if I wasn’t going to be branded a fake by the kids…a decent answer was required!  “Well, all the Minkes have to do is watch what’s going on around them and they can tell exactly what time of year it is…The Ocean Calendar is deadly accurate.”

Now…my kids aren’t stupid, they smelt a giant wharf rat, so they pressed me…”Give us some examples!”.  I paused for a second and then realized, this might just be easier than I thought…

“Well, it goes like this…In January, the seas are like glass. In March, the baby turtles hatch. In May, the humpbacks remind the Minkes it’s time to come to Queensland, so in June, they do. Hot on their heels, the Hammerhead Sharks arrive at Osprey, and that reminds the Marlin it’s nearly time for them to show up in September. Then in November the Coral Spawns so that tells the turtles it’s time to go to Raine island just in time to lay their eggs so the babies can hatch in March…you see it’s like mums yearly planner”.  A quick glance in the rear vision mirror told me I had successfully bluffed my way through this particular inquisition, but when I thought about it later…I realized, the ocean calendar kind of does exist. If I were to look out the wheelhouse windows and see a Minke, I would know it was mid-winter…and now that November is upon us…well, Raine Island here we come, the turtles await.


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