Lord Howe and the horny turtle


Why is that turtle so horny?

Reached in only an hour’s flying time from Sydney, Lord Howe Island Museum attempts to unravel and explain the diversity, majesty and intrigue of an incredible piece of the Pacific.

Seeing is believing in this Museum – and the enormous horned turtle skeleton which takes pride of place in the Lord Howe Island Museum collection is indeed a sight to behold. Noone knows whether he ceased to roam the shores of the island 2,000 or 40, 000 years ago. Regardless of the exact date of his demise, seeing this 2.5 meter long body complete with horny head and spikey tail immediately transports the visitor to a prehistoric time and place – a feeling emphasised by the geological exhibits revealing Lord Howe Island and it’s imposing mountains are in fact a 7 million year old volcano.

The horny turtle is supported by a pickled specimen of the rarely seen or heard Cookie Cutter Shark which appears to be gasping for air and desperate to tell you his story of how he eats his own teeth once he’s done with them and grows some more. Questions from a mini M&Ger as to why the Tooth Fairy doesn’t come to the shark are quickly despatched with an explanation that because the shark ate so many cookies and lost so many teeth, the Tooth Fairy simply refused to visit him.

The Island’s more recent and spectacular aviation history is told through the stories of aircraft crashes and emergency landings focusing on the remains of a Catalina. Whaling stories are illustrated with enormous harpoons and hulls of boats.

The Museum carries a strong environmental message that permeates the entire museum and is well supported by the diverse natural history collection, with many objects unique to the Island. These specimens are cleverly juxtaposed with an interpretive display of the types of feral animals introduced to the island and the havoc they have wreaked. None more so than humans.

Of all the amazing natural delights the island has to offer, this little cultural gem carefully and thoughtfully put together by Ian Hutton and his team is a jewel in the crown of Lord Howe Island.

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