ASR general manager Keith Williams rescuing a little loggerhead hatchling.
ASR general manager Keith Williams rescuing a little loggerhead hatchling.

Little turtles need lots of space

People thinking of a trip to the beach on foot or in their 4WD are being urged to be aware of turtle hatchlings making their life-or-death dash to the ocean.

Australian Seabird Rescue (ASR) volunteers and National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers have been monitoring a total of nine nests between Cabarita and South Ballina beaches that are all are due to hatch during March and April.

ASR’s Make Turtles Count project co-ordinator Jann Gilbert said when hatchlings erupt from the nest for dash to the ocean they scramble towards the brightest horizon, which, ideally, should be the ocean. As a result, it’s of primary importance to minimise artificial light near beaches and keep 4WD vehicles and beach walkers well away from the dune line or known nest sites.

“On beaches where the artificial light is brighter than the natural light, the hatchlings become confused and will crawl towards the artificial light rather than the ocean, as happened recently in suburban Brisbane,” Ms Gilbert said. “This makes them far more likely to be eaten by predators, killed by cars or dogs, die from exhaustion or dry out in the morning sun.”

Ms Gilbert encouraged people living in beachside towns and villages to switch off lights in outdoor areas and close curtains and blinds at night.

“4WD vehicles and beach walkers should also keep well away from the dune line to avoid trampling nests, and we’d like to remind dog walkers that it’s an important time to keep their dogs under control,” Ms Gilbert said.

Anyone who sees hatchlings should advise ASR on 0428 862 852 immediately.

“Only one in one thousand of the hatchlings will make it back to this beach to mate and lay eggs,” Ms Gilbert said. “ASR wants to ensure sure that as many as possible have the best chance of returning.”

For more information or if you’re interested in getting involved in turtle conservation, phone ASR on 6686 2852.


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