Green turtle. Picture: iStock.
Green turtle. Picture: iStock.

Turtles brave ‘serious challenges’ to lay eggs at Rainbow

IF YOU share the sentiments of the famous Zombie Kid who likes turtles, you'll be happy to know there are plenty laying eggs across the Rainbow Beach and Cooloola coastline this year.

The Cooloola Coastcare Association have reported seven laying sites along the stretch since the start of the month, after a dearth last summer due mainly to the effects of Cyclone Oma.

Turtle laying tracks at Rainbow Beach.
Turtle laying tracks at Rainbow Beach.

Coastcare president Randy Orwin says that's a good sign in more ways than one.

"One might have been a turnaround, and the others we're pretty sure have laid, and then last year we didn't see any," Mr Orwin said.

"In the middle of Cyclone Oma we had a resident ring us and say they saw some eggs, but because Oma destroyed the beach it wiped out 2-3 metres of sand so instead of having nice dunes we now have cliffs.

"The waves had come up and washed away more of the face of that cliff and all the eggs went with it.

"The number one reason we're seeing more this year is that last year was actually the first year with a turtle watch group, we had an expert move here from the Sunny Coast and become a member of Coastcare.

"We're super excited because people are aware now, people are calling us. The word is out and people are paying attention.

Turtle laying tracks at Rainbow Beach.
Turtle laying tracks at Rainbow Beach.

"For us it's super exciting to see the community engaging with one of the projects we're working on. It's the first year we've really had the bodies to do that."

Mr Orwin said community awareness during "peak laying month" has become increasingly important due to the conditions in the Rainbow area, as well as the low survival rate of turtle eggs.

Turtle laying tracks at Rainbow Beach.
Turtle laying tracks at Rainbow Beach.

"A normal clutch of eggs will have anywhere from 50 to 100+ eggs in it, but the reality is by the time they reach maturity to reproduce only one of those eggs will have lived long enough," he said.

"We have some serious challenges at Rainbow, of all the turtles that have been up on the beach every single one of those nests is in danger of being destroyed.

"Oma took all the sand away, there are no dunes for the turtles to get up on so they're laying eggs at the base of sand cliffs, and king tides with any kind of swell inundate them with water and most of the eggs will die.

"The gender of turtles is determined by the temperature of the sand. We're hugely important, because now it's only the southern beaches where the sand is cool enough to produce male turtles, so the more we can rescue the better off we're going to be."

Coastcare are planning on working with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Mon Repos Turtle Centre to develop local turtle nesting areas, and enable members to move eggs to safer hatching locations.

For more information visit Cooloola Coastcare Association Inc. on Facebook.

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