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Home Council Turtle trials help researchers understand glow impact

Turtle trials help researchers understand glow impact

Turtle hatchlings being released following research for the Reducing Urban Glow project this week.

Up to 30 turtle hatchlings were this week released on to four different beaches in the region as part of a light trial for the Reducing Urban Glow in Bundaberg and Cut the Glow projects.

Bundaberg Regional Council officers, along with rangers from the Department of Environment and Science (DES), participated in the turtle trials under the darkness of the new moon on Monday.

The aim of the trial is to release turtle hatchlings under controlled conditions to understand the influence of artificial light (urban glow) on hatchlings’ ability to navigate to the ocean.

Under the supervision of DES, 30 loggerhead turtle hatchlings were released and collected on dark beaches at Nielsen Beach (near the turtle playground), Kellys Beach and Archies Beach.

A DES spokesperson said the ongoing turtle trials would help researchers understand the impacts of coastal lighting on marine turtles and mortality.

“The studies are being carried out due to increased lighting along this coastline,” the spokesperson said.

“The lighting is causing hatchling turtles to head inland instead of out to sea.

“They are coming onto footpaths and roads at Bargara; crawling to nearby street lights at Burnett Heads.

“Many more would’ve been lost had they not been rescued by local Queensland turtle conservation volunteers.”

The joint research will involve multiple releases of hatchlings from multiple beaches over several months before results will be concluded.

Turtle trials
Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre.

Protecting turtles from light

Mayor Jack Dempsey said that Council is working to reduce urban glow across the coastal area.

“This includes the implementation of smart street lighting which will allow for dimming of lights down to 20 per cent when no vehicle or pedestrian traffic is present, and a gradual ramping of lights to 100 per cent when traffic is detected,” he said.

“There will also be a redesign and implementation of a new smart lighting solution for the Bargara foreshore pedestrian pathway.

“New low colour temperature lighting will be installed along the pathway in conjunction with the same smart technology applied to the streets.”

turtle light
The turtle hatchlings that participated in the light trial this week.

Mayor Dempsey said other projects included lighting improvements in parks along the foreshore and a partnership with Ergon to replace more than 200 conventional street lights with smart enabled LED lights.

He said the results of the turtle hatchling trial will give Council a better understanding of the effects of coastal lighting, with opportunities for the community to also participate and reduce urban glow.

“Residents and businesses within the community are encouraged to reduce their glow wherever possible,” he said.

“Broader community action that supports these initiatives is key to delivering successful project outcomes.”

The DES spokesperson said it was very important to reduce the glow at turtle-populated beaches due to the majority of both nesting and hatchling turtle activity occuring at night.

“The Department of Environment and Science encourages communities within 5km of turtle nesting beaches to ‘Cut the Glow to help turtles go’ during the breeding season (mid-October to April),” the spokesperson said.

How you can help:

Whether you are a resident, visitor or business, you can help cut the glow of lights affecting beaches in your local area by taking the following actions each evening during turtle breeding season.

  • Switch off unnecessary lights
  • Close your curtains and blinds
  • Use motion sensor lights for external lights
  • Position your lights so they face away from the beach
  • Plant vegetation to create a light barrier
  • When camping, shade lights to reduce the illuminated area
  • Only use a small torch on the beach

The Reducing Urban Glow in Bundaberg project is funded by the Australian Government under round two of the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.

*All turtles were released following the conclusion of the trial.

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