Turtles Return To The Discovery Coast. Marine turtles nest on many beaches and islands from the tropics to the NSW border. For many complex reasons some beaches are much more popular for turtle nesting than others.
Mon Repos and Wreck Rock beaches are the two most important coastal nesting sites in Queensland.
Nesting usually begins in the first week of November but this year the first nesters arrived in mid-October. Maybe it was because of the warmer temperatures. Numbers will increase until a peak around Christmas/New Year and decline until nesting ceases toward the end of February.
Dr Colin Limpus began his research of marine turtles at Mon Repos in the 1960’s while teaching and lecturing at Queensland schools and universities.
Monitoring at Wreck Rock has been extensive and data has been collected since 1974. All data is collected by accredited research teams and is sent to the Queensland Turtle Conservation Project which is one of the many wildlife conservation projects coordinated by the Department of Environment and Resource Management (D.E.R.M.)
D.E.R.M. trains and accredits all members of the many research teams operating in Queensland and provides them with all the knowledge and resources they need to monitor and report their findings.
The Wreck Rock team is also supported by a group of volunteers who help collect data and allow the monitoring to continue right through and beyond the school holiday period.
This group has formed a not-for-profit organization called TurtleCare Volunteers Queensland Inc., which helps with the field work and spends countless hours during the year raising funds to help keep the volunteers in the field, equipped and able to function without great personal expense and discomfort. Incorporation has also meant eligibility for grants from bodies such as the Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management, which has funded TurtleCare for several years, providing much needed support and additional equipment. In recent years support has also been provided by World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
There are many ways for everyone to assist with Turtle Conservation.
The best way is to become aware, and make others aware, that turtles are easily distracted from their laborious task on the beach. Distractions such as lights, movement or physical contact will cause a turtle to abort its attempt to nest and either move to a less secure location or abort completely.
Secondly, if you witness a nesting turtle, you should carefully follow the accepted procedures which will be outlined in future editions of ‘THE COASTAL RAG’.
Following a successful nesting, the site location should be recorded carefully but never marked. Curious onlookers will not heed warnings to stay clear and will often want to check out a nest with fatal implications.
If possible, identify the turtle species or use diagrams, distinguishing features and photos to record a description. The research team will be very interested in your data.
The nest can be monitored for the next 6 – 8 weeks to ensure that erosion and domestic or wild animals do not destroy it, but again, it is important that the nest location is not obvious.
One morning you will be rewarded with the tell tale signs that the nest has emerged. Once again our team will be very interested and trained personnel will try to extricate the remains of any undisturbed nests to measure the hatching and emergence success for comparison with various other locations and sets of conditions. It is essential that only trained and accredited personnel carry out these inspections to enable the data to be included in the statewide database.
There is so much information that everyone wants to learn to help protect this valuable and vulnerable natural resource and we will try to give as much as we can in future editions.
Please come and visit our team at the Wreck Rock Campground during December and January. We are not able to conduct tours or let you tag along on our patrols but regular slide shows are organized and researchers will accompany visitors to nesting turtles that are within walking distance of the access points.