BIG LOSS: Randy Orwin, president of Cooloola Coastcare and his son Hagen Orwin assess damage at Rainbow Beach yesterday.
BIG LOSS: Randy Orwin, president of Cooloola Coastcare and his son Hagen Orwin assess damage at Rainbow Beach yesterday. Lindy Orwin

Oma sucks Cooloola's only turtle eggs out to sea

THE king tides and abnormally high swell that continued to decimate the Cooloola Coast over the past days washed away hundreds of turtle eggs buried in the dunes in peak hatching period.

It was the biggest loss from the weather event aside beach vegetation loss, that would take longer to regenerate than sand would to deposit back on to the "devastated beach", Cooloola Coastcare's Lindy Orwin said.

Up to two metres in vertical height of sand had been ripped from the main beach area at Rainbow Beach up until late yesterday, while natural debris covered the sand that was left.

 

Although not readily known as turtle territory, Dr Orwin said there had been five beach turtle sightings in the region in recent times, with at least three to five nests with 100-200 eggs in each on the dunes between Rainbow Beach and Inskip Point.

Reports of an exposed nest of turtle eggs reached Dr Orwin on Friday, but they were gone in the large receding tide in the short time it took her to get to them.

She said this would be the case for all the eggs in the region, with the laying dunes now sucked away.

With eggs due to hatch between the end of January to March, any chance of survival for turtles in ready-to-hatch eggs sucked out to sea would be very slim as fish target broken eggs, she said.

 

At  least two vertical metres of sand has been ripped away from Rainbow Beach after king tides coincided with the big swells of ex-tropcial cyclone Oma.
At least two vertical metres of sand has been ripped away from Rainbow Beach after king tides coincided with the big swells of ex-tropcial cyclone Oma. Lindy Orwin

MORE TURTLES: 80 rescued eggs ready to hatch in rare Rainbow sighting

Turtles on the Cooloola Coast had not been monitored before, Dr Orwin said, blaming historic sand mining for interrupting their nesting cycle.

"We were sand mined between 30-50 years ago," Dr Orwin said.

"We're just getting to the maturity point for breeding again. This may be the first time they've come into breed (since then)."

MORE OMA: Mammoth tide swallows first Mudlo Rocks victim

The Cooloola Coast is an important breeding ground, alongside the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay region, where male turtles were born, she said.

"It's only from Fraser south that any male turtles are born - the temperature of the sand determines the sex of the baby."

Rainbow Beach was closed until yesterday as strong currents, large swells and high tides continued to engulf the beach, while a hazardous surf warning remained in place.

For turtle monitoring in Cooloola, report any turtle rescues, hatchings or exposed nests to TurtleCare's Joan Burnett on 0407 810 510.

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Gympie Times


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