Locals and tourists have volunteered their time to help wildlife rangers save thousands of baby turtles after recent high tides along the Woongarra coastline.
Extraordinarily high tides welcomed the new year along Bundaberg beaches as the summer king tides and ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth joined forces.
The abnormal conditions impacted turtle nests along the coastline, resulting in a relocation mission of epic proportions.
Mon Repos acting ranger-in-charge Nicole Murnane said current information showed over 100 clutches had been rescued.
“There may be more which were impacted but we won’t know the full picture until all the data has been collected,” she said.
“People were relocating exposed eggs around the high tides each day – an hour or two before and after each high tide, is my understanding.”
Nicole thanked those who took the time to assist in relocating the turtle nests and said it had significantly increased the turtles’ chances of survival.
“On the first two days the majority of the assistance came from the tourist public,” she said.
“They were directed by staff and volunteers, who are part of the marine turtle conservation program, in the correct way to handle eggs and safely relocate.
“During the three days that the dunes were most affected, there were between 30 and 50 people each day working together to rescue the eggs that were being exposed including departmental staff, volunteers and the general public.”
She said there was an average of 125 eggs in each of the clutches that were relocated.
“Moving the clutches has definitely increased those hatchlings chances of survival,” Nicole said.
“The eggs that were relocated would be considered ‘doomed’ eggs as they were exposed to the water and being washed out into the ocean, which they would not have survived.
“In a situation like this, time is of the essence.
“Each incoming wave can expose or wash away more eggs so the more hands you have assisting with the relocation process, the more eggs you can save.”
The 2021-22 turtle season at Mon Repos is tracking well
Nicole said despite the relocation work, it had been a good start to the turtle season due to recent rainfall.
“The rain cools the sand as well as adding moisture to the deeper sand layers,” she said.
“We won’t know exactly how much these factors will improve hatchling survival until the nests run, but it is definitely a move in the right direction.”
Nicole said there had been 290 loggerhead, nine flatback and five green turtles nest along the Woongarra coast so far this season.
“Hatchling season has also recently begun with around five to 10 clutches emerging over the past couple of weeks,” she said.
“The nightly Turtle Encounter tours have been full each night and it looks like most of January is the same.
“There are still some tickets available for the end of January, February and March so if people are keen to come and experience what Mon Repos has to offer, I recommend securing your ticket now.”
To book a ticket to Mon Repos Turtle Encounter click here, or phone Bundaberg Tourism on 1300 722 099.
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