The atmosphere on Lady Elliot Island was anything but “electric” on Saturday evening as we prepared for an evening of night activities with a twist. As a registered participant in Earth Hour, all non-essential power on the island was turned off between 8:30pm and 9:30pm.
Earth Hour began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned their lights off for one whole hour. This evolved into a global sustainability movement which is supported by WWF. 2010 marked the biggest Earth Hour ever, with a record 128 countries and territories officially switching off to pledge their support for the planet.
Humanity’s footprint on this one and only planet of ours is deepening. Since 1966, our collective demand on the planet’s natural resources has doubled and today we are using the equivalent of 1.5 planets to support our activities. Earth Hour is an opportunity for us to join together to show our commitment to take action, a time to move beyond the hour to reduce our impact on the planet.
Before the lights went out, guests gathered in the Education Centre with glow sticks and torches in hand for a short presentation. The group learnt about Climate Change, the predicted impacts on the Great Barrier Reef and how they can make a difference by doing things at home such as turning off lights, using public transport and planting trees which take up carbon dioxide as they grow. In addition, a specially prepared video was shown which included interviews of Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort staff from across different departments explaining what they do on a daily basis to minimise the resort’s carbon footprint. Guests were very interested in learning about the Hybrid Solar Power Station here on the island and were impressed to hear that to date the diesel use and carbon emissions have been reduced by approximately 70%, resulting in a drop of diesel use from 500 litres to 170 litres per day.
Just like clock-work, the lights went out at 8:30pm and the group made their way down to the beach to release the 23 Loggerhead Turtle Hatchlings (Caretta caretta) that had hatched on Friday evening but had been found on Saturday morning in the resort. The hatchlings slowly made their way through the tunnel of light and into the water. A Starry Moray Eel (Echidna nebulosa) was spotted when the light to guide the turtles was shining out on to the Lagoon.
After all the hatchlings reached the water, the group returned to the candle lit Dining Room and enjoyed the remainder of Earth hour playing board games and chatting by the light of torches and glow sticks.