Loggerhead guardians
  • Last updated:
  • 26 Aug 2019

From late October each year, Sunshine Coast TurtleCare volunteers prepare for the return of the endangered Loggerhead turtles. The signs are all there – the whales are returning south as the water temperature rises, the sand is warm with earlier sunrises and when the board riders start to surf without their wetsuits, then it’s turtle time!

On the beaches between Point Cartwright to Shelly Beach, the nesting activities start in mid-November and continue until the end of February. The hatchlings start to emerge from mid-January until the last nest in April emerges.

Volunteers participate in various activities throughout the season – training, identifying turtle tracks and nesting sites, picking up plastics off the beach, monitoring and maintaining nesting conditions, minimising predation and mitigating local threats, data collection, encouraging community awareness and enlisting assistance from the network of volunteers, local community and other ‘friends of TurtleCare’.

For the early risers, morning beach walks are a great way to start the day, delivering the numerous benefits of outdoor exercise, the delights of the surrounding environment and the occasional ‘prize’ – turtle tracks leading to a nest site. Accredited volunteers then identify the exact location of the eggs, protect the nest with fox exclusion meshing and complete the data recording.

For the night owls, spending a balmy summer evening on the beach with family and friends is always pleasant; combined with the night watch of a turtle nest, the delights of a hatchling emergence and their run to the ocean is always an amazing experience.

For more information visit TurtleCare Volunteering.

Marcia’s impact

A ‘perfect storm’ of conditions were predicted as Tropical Cyclone Marcia made her way down the east coast. Several endangered Loggerhead turtle nests were identified to be at risk of erosion and storm surge impact. Trained volunteers were rostered on during the storm to respond to any reports of nest loss.

Fortunately, due to the consistent monitoring and careful preparation of the TurtleCare volunteers, no nest loss was recorded during TC Marcia.

The storm even uncovered a previously unrecorded nest at Shelly Beach, which had successfully emerged overnight. Volunteers Megan and Geoff (pictured) were able to witness the last hatchling make its way to the water in the stormy conditions.

Article by Lesley Dimmock
Images by Melissa Rowe