One of the great things about living on the island is the abundance of marine life we find. One of my favourite animals spotted around the region are sea turtles. In fact, the Great Barrier Reef Marine park gets 6 of the world’s 7 species of Sea Turtles. Even better, two of those use Maggie as a nesting site. November to March is nesting season so keep an eye out around the island. You might even see Crush from finding Nemo!
We aren’t a major nesting site like Mon Repos, but this year has seen a bumper crop of nests. QPWS has recorded 15 nests on the island this season, 12 of them are in Horseshoe Bay – and some of the eggs have already hatched! How cool is that?
We mostly get Flatbacks nesting on the island, but this year there have been reports of Greens as well and they’ll be hatching between now and March. Watching the little guys head down to the ocean is certainly an exciting time.
Green Sea Turtle Grazing Seagrass By P.Lindgren (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0]
How can you help?
Anyone who spots nesting turtles, nests or tracks is asked to report them to local rangers on 0407 590 378 or 4778 5378.
QPWS also recommends using the following guidelines:
- Do not disturb nesting turtles – light, noise and movement can cause turtles to turn back without nesting. Keep at least 50m away from the turtle
- Don’t light fires on the beaches – the light can disorientate turtles and destroy eggs in the nest
- Keep vehicles off sand dunes and beaches – vehicles compact the sand and crush the eggs
- Control your dogs and prevent them from digging up turtle nests
I’ve also pulled some fun turtle facts together:
- Turtles are one of the oldest reptile groups in the world. Even older than snakes and alligators – they’ve been on the planet over 200 million years old. (That’s almost as old as the island itself).
- Turtles have a super tough bony cartilaginous shell to protect them from predators. The upper shell is called a ‘carapace’ and the lower shell is called a ‘plastron’.
- Turtles can’t climb out of their shell. Just like your bones, a turtle’s shell is actually part of its skeleton. It’s made up of over 50 bones which include the turtle’s rib cage and spine. It grows as the turtle grows.
- Sea turtles have special glands which help remove salt from the water they drink.
- The largest turtle is the leatherback sea turtle, it can weigh over 900 kg! (2000 lb)
- .Turtles return to their nesting site after spending 20-30 years in the water. Animal GPS in action!