October 8th 2010
Turtle nesting season opens
Keeping cars well back, dogs on their leashes and not lighting fires on the beach foreshore are three simple ways to help the survival of baby turtles during the turtle nesting season which began early this week with the first reported nesting occurring at West Point.
The tracks were discovered on Wednesday by a member of the West Point Beach Care Group who reported the nest to Island rangers who have erected a sign with information about the hatchlings and protection of the nest.
It is unknown what type of turtle made the nest but from the width of the remaining tracks it thought to be a very large animal.
The nest is now marked with a star picket and information at West Point.
According to Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, nesting and hatching activity is expected to continue until around February. Eggs hatch after 45-55 days.
Locals gather to witness two Turtle Hospital patient's release
A week ago about fifty locals watched with avid interest and delight as two previously sick turtles were returned to the sea at Picnic Bay after being treated by the Turtle Hospital at Reef HQ in Townsville. There was no doubt how excited and proud all concerned were that these marvelous but threatened and or critically endangered species could be helped. But as Magnetic Times has noted in previous articles there are major threats to marine turtles which are caused by people, including locals, which can easily be stopped.
Driving onto foreshores and beaches is one main factor. Not only does this practice kill the tiny crustaceans which live in beach sand and feed the fish so many of us seek to catch, the likelihood of driving over and or parking on a turtle nest can crush the eggs but also compact the sand so as to make it harder for the turtles to dig nests.
Turtles nest very close to the road at Nelly Bay
While many drivers may not be aware, particularly at locations such as Nelly Bay Beach foreshore, parking, although not illegal, may well disturb turtle nesting as the road runs very close to the beach and informal parking areas such as beneath the large fig near the old Nelly Bay helipad present a threat to turtle nesting. Turtles have nested further inland from this location and a similar situation occurs at Radical Bay where vehicle tracks are often seen on the beach and nests have been situated beneath shady trees where parking often takes place.
A nest under a shade and popular parking tree at Radical Bay
Nesting hollows may also present an attractive option for a beach fire. The hollow may well be a turtle nest and heat from the fire is capable of cooking the eggs beneath.
Perhaps most notably, on Nelly Bay Beach, where many locals continue to walk their dogs off-leash in contravention of local laws, dogs can be attracted to the smell of the eggs in the sand and dig up a nest. For this reason, among a number of others, it is particularly important for dog owners to keep control of their dogs especially around the dune areas of the beach.
Turtle nesting activity including tracks in the sand, turtles coming up the beach, hatchlings emerging from the nest should be reported to QPWS Rangers by calling 0470 590 378.
George Hirst, Editor
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