Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

January 12th 2012
Look out for nesting turtles

A flatback turtle attempts to nest at Nelly Bay It's that time of year again when marine turtles are nesting and hatchlings beginning to make there way to the sea shore - and often in places where locals may be walking with their dogs.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority species conservation expert Dr Mark Read said the community could do their bit to these ensure turtles nest safely and hatchlings had a good chance of survival.

"Six of the world's seven species of marine turtles live in the Great Barrier Reef and it is important we take care of the turtles in our Australian nursery," Dr Read said.

"At this time of year it is imperative not to interfere with turtles, their hatchlings or eggs.

"Anything humans can do to make their life easier will assist the species to recover after severe weather events such as cyclones and floods experienced in 2010 and 2011."

As a turtle hatching can quickly become a spectator event when news travels fast around Magnetic Island it is remarkable how many people have appeared with their dogs. With stress from street and car lights the chances for the baby turtle's survival are already being diminished. Bringing along large and small carnivores only adds to the problem.

If you are lucky enough to witness a turtle nesting be sure to follow the GBRMPA's Responsible Reef Practices:

* Do not approach a turtle emerging from the water or moving up the beach
* On sighting a turtle emerging from the water, keep still and turn off all lights until laying begins
* Do not alter the environment in any way
* Limit the use of light by turning torches off whenever possible and viewing with ambient light. Turtles may get confused by artificial light and may not finish nesting.

The community also needs to give young turtle hatchlings the best chance of survival:
* Stay well clear (at least two metres) of nests where hatchlings are emerging
* Limit the use of light and never shine lights directly onto hatchlings as hatchlings may become confused by artificial light and may not make it to the ocean
* Use low wattage torches (less than three-volt, two-cell) with red cellophane or a filter over the bulb
* Do not shine torches out to sea when hatchlings are in the water this may cause the hatchlings to return to shore
* If you live close to the beach, make sure all outside lights are turned off and your curtains are drawn to restrict light.
* Boaties can also do their bit when out on the water to help protect turtles or hatchlings moving to and from the water and land.
* Be on the look out for surfacing turtles in areas such as shallow reef flats and seagrass meadows - travel slowly in these areas, with no wake
* If a turtle is close to your vessel, engage neutral and allow the animal to swim away undisturbed
* Do not encircle or trap turtles with vessels. Allow an escape route
* Do not pursue turtles if they try to avoid the vessel or flee the area.

To report sick, injured, stranded or dead turtles please call 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Look out for nesting turtles
Michael Johnson
January 11th 2012
Hello George. No turtles have laid their eggs on Nelly Bay beach. I can attest to that because I walk my dog regularly. Well she walks me regularly. Sea grass depletion as a result of the floods and Yassie point towards this non event, however six nests are recorded in Horseshoe Bay.
January 11th 2012
It is important that turtles are not disturbed while they are considering laying eggs. I understand that if they are disturbed they will go back out to sea and 'abort' their eggs.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

Readers comments
Syl Hayes In reply to Fair raises $15,000 for school
What a wonderful outcome for the school! I had a great time face-painting with Luke and Sasha, met lots of kids and parents,scored some great books at the Trash n Treasure stall, and even remembered to vote. Everywhere you looked people were enjoying themselves...such a tribute to the organisers. Well done!
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