More loggerheads than ever

By | Category: Travel destinations
image © Robert Ashdown, NPRSR

image © Robert Ashdown, NPRSR

Last season, as many as 350 rare loggerhead turtles came ashore onto beaches along Australia’s Southern Great Barrier Reef region to lay their eggs. Hundreds hatched, emerged from their nests and headed – safely at least to start with – into the ocean.

This coming season then, should be even better so if you are planning a holiday down under you might consider either between November and January when the egg laying takes place or February and March when the hatchlings begin to break through their shells and begin their journey into the sea.

Near Bundaberg is the Mon Repos Conservation Park, home to the largest loggerhead turtle rookery in the South Pacific and a regular nesting site for loggerhead, flatback and green turtles.

Between November and January, mature female turtles burrow deep into the sand in the darkness of night to lay as many as 130 eggs per clutch before returning to the water. The hatchlings then incubate for eight weeks before breaking out of the nest and hurling themselves toward the ocean.

Head of Queensland’s loggerhead turtle research program Dr Col Limpus said the tireless efforts of volunteers and rangers over the past four decades to protect loggerhead turtles in the state’s national parks was yielding amazing results, particularly this season.

This has now become a popular tourism attraction, with ranger-guided turtle tours running seven nights a week during the season. Dubbed one of Australia’s greatest conservation and educational experiences, these tours attract as many as 30,000 tourists from around the world, signalling a global trend towards ecotourism and natural attractions.

Once the turtles leave Australia it is as long as thirty years before they return. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services officer, Lisa Emmert, explains that “The hatchlings, once they leave our shores, orientate with the magnetic fields of the earth. As they enter the water they ride this incredibly huge current around the Pacific Ocean, which goes along the shores of South America, and then they enter back into our waters, and find their feeding ground. “When they reach 30 years of age, that connection with the magnetic field brings them back into this area to lay their eggs as adults.”

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