As the Program Manager for Sea Turtle Foundation I am very excited to be heading up to Milman Island this week to give training and support to an all-female team of Rangers from the NPARC/Apudthama and Torres Strait Regional Authority Indigenous Ranger programs.
There has been much concern recently about what appears to be a serious decline in the population of hawksbill turtles of the western Pacific. Our team will be responsible for the final leg of a 6-week monitoring program that is contributing to our understanding of
population trends of nesting hawksbill and green turtles in the northern Great Barrier Reef.
A mammoth collaboration effort between the Apudthama Rangers, Sea Turtle Foundation, Queensland Government,
WWF and the Western Cape Turtle Threat Abatement Alliance has meant that together we will be able to record all turtle nesting activity on the island throughout the peak nesting season.
Our team will spend 8 nights on the remote northern island and the female rangers will learn all about monitoring marine turtles and their nests.
Sea Turtle Foundation involvement in this project has been made possible with fantastic support provided through the Norman Wettenhall Foundation.
Tips and Tricks for Sea Turtle Nesting Season
By Erica Malpass
With summer here, sea turtle nesting season is approaching. With summer comes more and more people at the beach, but there are some things you need to remember while you’re enjoying your day in the sun. November- April is nesting season for Australia’s sea turtles, and with that comes some precautions that should be taken on our beaches. Sea turtles are threatened or endangered, so while you are out on the beach please be cautious and aware of your surroundings. We must do all we can to protect these amazing creatures. To help ensure the safety of our turtles, we have put together the top tips and tricks for you to know this nesting season.
Tips for the Nesting Season:
- If you notice tracks or a disturbance in the sand, RSPCA’s 1300 ANIMAL hotline (1300 264 625)
- If you see a turtle, do not disturb her or harass her. Lights and noise can startle nesting females so if you want to take a picture, be sure your flash is turned OFF and remain quiet!
- Maintain a respectful distance! Large crowds can cause an immense amount of stress on the nesting female
- Do not tread on or disturb turtle nests, they are listed as endangered or vulnerable species and any type of disturbance could lead to a hefty fine.
- Throw away your rubbish so as not to attract any unwanted pests. We need to avoid any potential predation of nests that can occur. Also, clearing rubbish will ensure the safety of the hatchling’s health as they make their way to the ocean
- Do not try to feed turtles, this can cause them more harm
- If you see any suspicious behaviour, please report it!
Following this list will help ensure that both nesting females and their hatchlings are safe and that we have a successful nesting season.
To follow the quick tips and tricks for a successful nesting season, you need to be aware of the most popular nesting beaches in your area. The Queensland Coast is famous for sea turtle nesting as well as other regions in Australia. Here are just a few of the top beaches around the region that you may experience seeing a nesting sea turtle:
- Mon Repos Conservation Regional Park
- Great Barrier Reef Islands
- Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
- Bare Sand Island, Northern Territory
This summer if you have a chance to visit any of these beaches or you live near one, make sure to watch out for turtle nesting! It’s an amazing experience that you will remember for a lifetime. Also, remember that although these are some of the most well-known beaches, turtles will nest anywhere so you never know which beach you will see a turtle nesting on. Just remember to follow our tips!
Ever dreamed of sailing in luxury for 10 days around the beautiful islands of eastern Indonesia in search of whales, dolphins and of course turtles? Well that is exactly what Sea Turtle Foundation Director, Tim Harvey will be doing in late February next year. Read more
Sea Turtle Foundation held a community engagement day and beach clean up at Cape Pallarenda on October 9th.
The day was well attended with over 30 attendees and some scouts even came down to help clean up the beach. Tangaroa Blue was on hand to give a much appreciated hand with sorting the rubbish and collecting the data. In total we collected 31Kg of rubbish which was a great effort considering the beach at Cape Pallarenda is considered to be relatively clean. It just goes to show how much rubbish is on our beaches. Recently it was reported that an estimated 50% of marine turtles within Australian waters will have plastic in their systems. Cleaning our beaches is important but the real difference will only be made when people stop littering and cease the use of one use plastic products. A key item found at the clean up was cigarette butts, with over 200 found, it was really disappointing to find an item that takes 1-5 years to break down so prominent on our beaches. Other key items collected were plastic bottles (which take approximately 450 years to break down) and straws.
After the clean up participants were invited up to the old quarantine station buildings for some light refreshments and some talks regarding turtle conservation and research. These were presented in conjunction with QPWS, Tangaroa Blue and the JCU Turtle Health Research Group.
A key aim for the day was to establish a good network and relationship with our stranding response volunteers. Again we encourage anyone interested in this program and undertaking online stranding training to email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Stranding numbers are currently relatively low but it is important that Sea Turtle Foundation and QPWS continue to build strong relationships with our volunteers so they can be called upon again when stranding numbers inevitably increase due to weather events. It was good to see some familiar faces as well as some new volunteers. Anyone who would like to volunteer with STF in any capacity whether it be helping out in the office, fundraising or joining the stranding response team please contact us, we would love to hear from you.
After a successful classroom talk with Chris Pacey’s Year 11 Marine Science Class at St. Patrick’s College, STF joined forces with the JCU Turtle Health Research team to arrange a special field experience for the students.
On Wednesday September 14th, the St. Patrick’s Year 11 Marine Science Class, JCU Turtle Health Research Group and STF met at Toolakea beach to do some field work in the tidal pools and contribute to long term data collection and monitoring of the juvenile green turtle population at Toolakea. It was a very successful day and a great example of collaboration between the three groups. The girls seemed to have a great day and STF Project Officer, Alice enjoyed another opportunity to get out in the field and assist with both education and marine turtle research.
STF would like to thank Dr. Ellen Ariel making the day possible and her team of volunteers for assisting with the students and the turtles.
Whilst this field experience was a special and rare opportunity for the St. Pat’s girls, STF is able to do class room talks for students of all ages in both the Cairns and Townsville regions. So please send an email to email@example.com if you are a teacher and are interested in having STF come to your classroom to give a talk on marine turtles.
Sea Turtle Foundation was lucky enough to be invited to the opening of JCU Turtle Health Research Group’s “Caraplace” on August 10th. It was a great day which celebrated a lot of hard work by Dr Ellen Ariel and her team at JCU. The research facility currently houses 42 turtles and facilitates a number of ground breaking studies. Sea Turtle Foundation is proud of the involvement we have with the JCU Turtle Health Research group and the creation of “Caraplace” and we hope to continue this involvement into the future. The research centre is the first known purpose built turtle health research facility in the world and is already allowing for a number of exciting studies to occur. We wish Ellen and her team the best for the future and hope that STF can continue to work closely with the Research Group.