Call to turn the litter tide for turtles

Published 9:00am 14 March 2024

Call to turn the litter tide for turtles
Words by Kylie Knight

A family event will be held next month in a bid to raise awareness of the turtles who call Moreton Bay home, and those who may nest on Peninsula beaches.

The Family Turtle Expo Day will be held at Scarborough’s Queens Beach North on April 20 from 10am-2pm. It is free to attend.

It is being organised by the Rotary Club of Redcliffe Sunrise, the Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group (ESRAG) and Oceania.

Spokesman Colin Scobie says the event is timely as turtles typically nest between October and March and usually hatch in South East Queensland from December to May, with the peak hatching period in February and March.

“The community needs to be on the lookout for turtle nesting tracks and hatchling ‘pip’ tracks across the intertidal sands, particularly at Queens Beach North which has a warm, high sand embankment above high tide line,” Colin says.

He points to a hatching event in 2010, during which hundreds of tiny turtles hatched on Queens Beach North late one night and, confused by street lighting, wandered onto the road.

Fortunately, residents noticed them and turned them around so they could head to the water. Subsequently, turtle-friendly street lighting was installed along that stretch of road.

Colin says there’s a high chance turtles will return to that nesting spot, so residents and visitors need to be on the lookout.

“The turtles that hatched in February 2010 at Queens Beach North have travelled the Eastern Australian Current to South America, where they do not nest. They only nest on the Queensland Coast. Now, as adults, their inbuilt GPS system will direct them back to Queens Beach North for nesting again,” he explains.

“Climate change will see more turtles nesting on the Peninsula, again particularly at Queens Beach North because of the high, warm sand embankment above the high tide line which is ideal for the 60-day incubation period.

“We want to raise awareness that there are many turtles that live in our Moreton Bay and particularly along the Redcliffe Peninsula as the Peninsula protrudes deep into the Moreton Bay Marine Park.

“The loggerhead turtle is a threatened species, and many kayakers see turtles around our rocky groynes and reefs in the bay.”

Threats to turtles include litter in the marine park, which is also a protected Ramsar site.

Vivien Harris and Karen Catterall, inspired by a ‘Marine DeBris’ display at Redcliffe Museum have decorated boards in the shapes of turtles with rubbish collected mostly from the beach at Clontarf.

The pair have grouped the items in colours and hope the artwork will raise awareness of the items which wash up on the Peninsula’s beaches every day, and encourage others to collect rubbish when they’re at the beach. The turtles will be on display at the Family Turtle Expo Day.

Vivian and Karen want people to dispose of rubbish responsibly, knowing that when there is heavy rain and flooding, many items discarded on land are washed into stormwater drains and out to sea.

They have found everything from bottle tops to soft plastics, wristbands and shoes, and say it is discouraging when they spend a few hours collecting rubbish one day, only to see more on the beach when they return.

Colin hopes a broad cross-section of the community will attend the turtle expo.

“With the opportunity for children to paint a turtle at the event and perhaps see the eggs in a nest in the sand, courtesy of the Bribie Island Turtle Trackers, attendees such as families and grandparents and public officers at the event will have a take-home message of ‘protecting threatened species’,” he says.

“We hope they will consider the reduction of plastic use.”

Family Turtle Expo Day

  • Guest speakers including Associate Professor Daryl McPhee, Bribie Island Turtle Trackers
  • Lucky event prizes
  • Children’s activities
  • Sausage sizzle
  • Displays
Call to turn the litter tide for turtles

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