Region’s first Turtle Talk and Beach Walk

Dec 7, 2014 | ,
Fay Griffin (Mackay & District Turtle Watch Association) explains the nesting cycle at the first Mackay Whitsunday Turtle Talk and Beach Walk.
Fay Griffin (Mackay & District Turtle Watch Association) explains the nesting cycle at the first Mackay Whitsunday Turtle Talk and Beach Walk, which attracted more than 40 people.

It’s that time of year again, when marine turtles start making their way up beaches along our coastline to nest.

This year, members of the Mackay and Pioneer Valley community had the rare chance to learn more about the incredible journey and nesting cycle of our returning sea turtles, with the region’s first Turtle Talk and Beach Walk held at Ball Bay in November.

The evening included an interactive beach walk followed by a free barbecue. Though no turtles were spotted on the night, the event was enjoyed by all.

Reef Catchments coastal coordinator, Claire Bartron, said the average female Flatback made the trek from the water into the sand dunes three times to lay clutches of around 60 billiard-ball sized eggs.

The Turtle Talk and Beach Walk helped demonstrate what can be done to keep human interference to a minimum, ensuring the return of our region’s precious turtle population.

“It is during nesting and while digging the nest chamber that female turtles are most vulnerable and they can be easily disturbed, even by the most well-meaning visitors,” Ms Bartron said.

“The use of torches, camera flashes or moving in front of a female can all be enough to see her heading back to the ocean – and prevent her from laying her eggs.”

Nesting turtles can become disorientated by artificial lights, including from streets, parks, and housing. Dogs also pose a problem and have been known to attack nesting turtles, injuring or even killing them.

“Fortunately it is very easy to learn how we can help these amazing animals, without disturbing them. The Turtle Talk and Beach Walk helped people learn more, and the night walked helped demonstrated how to spot a turtle and the actions to take if they are seen,” Ms Bartron said.

“This is the first time this event has been held and we were very please to give members of the community the opportunity to come along.”

The evening included a presentation from the award-winning Mackay and District Turtle Watch Association (MDTWA) who have worked to protect and monitor the region’s iconic and threatened sea turtles in the Mackay region for more than 20 years.

The event was is a joint initiative of Reef Catchments, Mackay Regional Council and the Mackay and District Turtle Watch Association (MDTWA).

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Coasts and Communities is a joint initiative of Mackay Regional Council and Reef Catchments, through funding from the Australian Government and with support from Mackay Regional Council’s Natural Environment Levy.