Close-up of the eggs in the nest before removal.
Close-up of the eggs in the nest before removal.

Race to save turtle eggs at Rainbow Beach

A SMALL band of turtle rescuers have tried their best to mop up after a massive downpour at Rainbow Beach overnight on Sunday flooded two loggerhead turtle nests.

Scores of eggs that were carefully removed from a section of beach early Sunday and moved into a protected area were yesterday compromised when an unlikely storm dumped 90mm of rain on the beachside town in 24 hours.

 

Turtle care leader Joan Burnett sitting next to the eggs lined up in rows of 10 as they are removed from the nest.
Turtle care leader Joan Burnett sitting next to the eggs lined up in rows of 10 as they are removed from the nest.

 

The weather was terrible news for Cooloola Coastcare turtle care leader Joan Burnett who had been part of the initial turtle relocation.

Mrs Burnett yesterday joined an urgent working bee to divert water from the new nest location where council sandbags could not hold out the running water.

"Water has gushed down the top of them," she said.

"The weather has been so bad. It's been very hard to find a spot to relocate nests to."

She said marine turtles had been driven to nesting on an embankment closer to the water's edge between Rainbow Beach and Inskip Point because of the overly dry sand dunes on the Cooloola Coast.

 

Turtle egg rescue: Coolum and North Shore Coast Care volunteers teach Cooloola Coast Turtle Care volunteers how to protect turtle eggs.
Turtle egg rescue: Coolum and North Shore Coast Care volunteers teach Cooloola Coast Turtle Care volunteers how to protect turtle eggs.

 

But that left nests exposed to high tides, she said.

The exposed nest found on Sunday contained 131 eggs that were moved to a protected beach path blocked by Gympie Regional Council to protect another nest.

"We don't want a flood of water sitting on them (for long) because that would be a catastrophe," Mrs Burnett said.

She said the aim was to divert the water from rain.

"We will try not to shift them again - it is not good for them to be shifted anymore than you can help."

 

The eggs are put back in the artificial nest in the order that they came out.
The eggs are put back in the artificial nest in the order that they came out.

 

She said she had not been surprised by the recent turtle activity given the proximity to Fraser Island, which that had rookery

'Turtles will lay anywhere - you get them all the way down to Sydney."

But the odds of a turtle making it to adulthood were one in one thousand, she said.

"(If a turtle makes it) they will come back somewhere in the area to lay," she said.

Mrs Burnett said public awareness was helping with turtle protection in the region, but the organisation was looking for more volunteers.

 

Turtle egg rescue: Coolum and North Shore Coast Care volunteers teach Cooloola Coast Turtle Care volunteers how to protect turtle eggs.
Turtle egg rescue: Coolum and North Shore Coast Care volunteers teach Cooloola Coast Turtle Care volunteers how to protect turtle eggs.

 

Numerous 4WD tracks on the beach were an ongoing worry to turtle carers, according to information posted on the organisation's Facebook page.

"This is a real problem when the hatchlings run to the water, as a single track will keep them from making it," the post said. The group is aiming to watch abut 12 nests that are likely to hatch in six to eight weeks.

"We are seeking volunteers that are willing to learn how to spot a nest that is about to run, notify the team about which nest is ready and help us rake the beach so the baby turtles can make it to the water," the post said.

"Some people might even be watching nests in the middle of the night waiting for the hatchlings to hatch out."

To help contact Joan Burnett on 0407 810 510.

Gympie Times


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