The bells at St Peter's Church rang out across Bargara today to mark the start of turtle season after the first turtle arrived at Mon Repos Beach this week.
Mon Repos head ranger Cathy Gatley said a flatback turtle was the first to make her way ashore to lay her first clutch of eggs.
“Today we’re ringing the bells to welcome in our first nesting turtles. It’s exciting times to let the community know that the turtles are back for their season,” Cathy said.
“Earlier in the week we had a flatback turtle at Mon Repos that came ashore, but did not lay.
“She came back last night and laid her eggs and we’ve also had a loggerhead turtle come ashore on one of the Bargara beaches and nest a night or two ago, so two turtles up so far.
“Our flatback laid 55 eggs in a really good location up high in the dunes.”
The ringing of the bells is an event steeped in Bundaberg’s history and is held every year.
Not only does it alert people to the start of the turtle season, but Cathy said it was also a mindful reminder for residents on the foreshore to cut the glow and help turtles go.
“We always ring the bells to get the message out that they’re here,” she said.
“People can really help out turtles by thinking of lighting, so turn off lights from 7.30pm to keep the area nice and dark. Turtles like dark features for nesting it’s nice and safe.”
Students take part in bell ringing
St Luke’s Anglican School students joined Mon Repos rangers in ringing the bells at midday.
Year 5 student Ben Taylor said it was important to protect these special sea creatures.
“I feel very lucky. On our Year 3 camp we experienced a turtle that laid eggs and each one of the students got to move an egg to a safer place so predators couldn’t eat them,” Ben said.
“As a town close to the beach, it’s a wonderful spot and as we go through the years we need to save some of our turtles and keep the environment healthy.”
The bells also mean the start of the Mon Repos Turtle tours, although tours are booked out already until February.
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