Be kind to our finned friends
THE death of a green turtle found at Dundowran Beach at the start of the month is a reminder to keep an eye out for the gentle creatures, especially during mating season, says conservationist Lesley Bradley.
Turtle mating season has started and Fraser Coast residents are being urged to take extra care while out on the water.
“If they do find dead turtles please notify Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service,” Ms Bradley said.
“Check for tags and preferably don't touch them because they can carry diseases.”
Ms Bradley and her husband, Don, have been working with turtles for seven years. They are both members of the Lower Mary River Land and Catchment Care Group (Land Care) and the Sandy Cape Lighthouse Conservation Association.
Ms Bradley said the Great Sandy Strait was home to mainly green turtles (chelonia mydas) which also nest and mate at Sandy Cape, on the northern tip of Fraser Island.
Loggerheads also occasionally nest along the Fraser Coast shoreline.
The Bradleys will head to Sandy Cape on Thursday for a month to monitor turtles.
The Point Vernon couple will spend the days counting eggs and barnacles, recording damage caused during mating or by sharks and big fish, measuring how fat the turtles are and their carapace and checking tags.
They will also examine turtles for papilloma tumours - a wart-like growth usually found on a turtle's skin but which can also grow in mouths and throats, leading to death.
Papillomas are thankfully not common, Ms Bradley says, but are one of a few problems turtles face.
Others include being hit by boats when floating just under the water's surface, a popular habit during mating season.
“I think on the whole boaties are fairly careful but there are enough turtles that die from boat strikes to warrant worry.”
Ms Bradley said people should keep an extra eye out for large brown spots in the water, especially in calmer, sheltered areas, which could be turtles.
Barnacles also pose a problem if they burrow into the skin of a turtle, making them sick.
If a turtle is found sick, or suffering from other problems, a park ranger can sometimes send them to Australia Zoo.
Mating season is at its peak from mid-October to late November but continues into February.TURTLE TIDBITS:
• Turtle mating and nesting season has started and will last until February • Female adult turtles usually breed every two to four years • Young females lay approximately 70 eggs while older turtles can lay up to 170 • Nesting and hatchling marine turtles become disoriented by bright lights • Green turtles can weigh up to 185kg but are usually about 130kg • To learn more about turtles visit Mon Repos Conservation Park at Bargara or check outwww.epa.qld.gov.au and http://mrccc.org.au.