Endangered sea turtle hatchlings along the Woongarra coastline will have a better chance of survival after the installation of a turtle nesting cage in Burnett Heads.
Bundaberg Regional Council has teamed up with the Sea Turtle Alliance, the Lighthouse Hotel Burnett Heads community raffles members and local volunteers to help conserve the region’s sea turtles.
Sea Turtle Alliance committee member and turtle volunteer Carly Sugars said the cage would help to protect the nests from predators and environmental factors such as the heat from the sun.
“Council, with assistance from the Conservation and Ecosystem Management trainees from Impact Community Services, recently installed a turtle nesting cage at Burnett Heads to help protect loggerhead turtle hatchlings,” Carly said.
“The cage was funded by donations from the Lighthouse Hotel community raffles, Sea Turtle Alliance and Council.”
Carly said shade cloth would be added to the top of the cage prior to the commencement of the nesting season which would assist in regulating nest temperatures.
“In recent years, hatchling success has been impacted by high sand temperatures, resulting in hatchling deaths prior to emergence,” she said.
“The cage was designed with input from marine turtle specialist Dr Col Limpus from the Department of Environment and Science and will also function to prevent predation of nests by foxes and dogs.”
Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey said protecting the region's turtles was an important initiative which Council had been championing in several different ways.
“Our coastline hosts the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the east coast of Australia and is home to 50 per cent of endangered loggerhead turtle breeding activity in the South Pacific Ocean” he said.
“Through our Reducing Urban Glow initiative, the Bargara Pedestrian Pathway Smart Lighting Project and now this nesting cage, we are always looking at ways to keep our turtle population in good health and thriving in their natural environment.
“I would like to thank the Sea Turtle Alliance team, Impact and the The Lighthouse Hotel raffle members for their partnership in this very important project.”
The endangered loggerhead turtle nests along the Woongarra Coast between November and February.
“Local turtle volunteers registered with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service monitor turtle activity throughout the season,” Carly said.
“When turtles lay nests in unsafe areas, volunteers relocate the nests to a safe location on the same beach, as eggs inundated by high tides or impacted by dune erosion have a significantly reduced chance of developing and hatching.”
The new cage at Burnett Heads will hold up to 32 relocated nests.
Prior to installation of the cage, the community volunteers and the Impact Community Services trainees also weeded the dunes to make way for the cage and to encourage native species to regenerate.