How to see baby turtles in Townsville North Queensland
10 February 2022
Magnetic Island is the perfecting launching pad with local beaches seeing off our little flippered friends as they prepare to take on the big blue!
Magnetic Island’s Turtles
Nesting season typically starts in early October and carries on through until February each year, with the eggs generally taking between 45-55 days to incubate before the little hatchlings are ready to leave the nest and make the journey to the East Australia current, which runs along the coast of Townsville North Queensland!
Our two nesting species on Magnetic Island are the Flat Back turtles, and the Green Sea Turtles (both Australian Endemics).
Green turtles are the most regularly seen around the island but are not as frequent nesters as our resident flat back turtles. A female green sea turtle will lay an average of 90-100 eggs per clutch (nest) in comparison to our flat backs which only lay an average of 40-50 eggs. In about 30 years’ time or when sexual maturity is reached, these little hatchlings will make their way back to the shore to lay their own eggs.
Nests can be tricky to identify and there is a bit of detective work involved in finding them! If the turtle tracks leading up the beach are clear it can be an easy job. However with time, the quality of the tracks degrade and can become harder for the untrained eye to see. Nests can also be very easily disturbed by people, dogs, cars and lights, which is why it’s important to always check for recent turtle nesting signs [pictured] put in place by the Magnetic Island Network for Turtles (MINT) or the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
Magnetic Island Network for Turtles (MINT) and the local turtle hospital was founded to help respond to strandings and rehabilitate sick and injured turtles. MINT is driven by a small group of dedicated volunteers from the island who engage the wider community to help sea turtle conservation through awareness, rehabilitation and education.
In 2021 MINT successfully rehabilitated 5 turtles, one of which still resides around the island frequently visiting divers and snorkellers alike!
This turtle season (2021-2022) has been the biggest in 15 years of monitoring! With 30-50 recorded nests on Magnetic Island alone, it’s given MINT the opportunity to monitor and collect beneficial data for future turtle seasons! Working in partnership with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, MINT has been able to exhume the nests after the turtles have hatched and record success and failure rates by conducting post hatch surveys, where often there will be a few little hatchlings stuck in the bottom of the nest, and with the volunteer’s assistance will be guided to the sea, ready to take on the big blue!
Just as we feel the sting of hot summer sand on our feet, so do little flippers! This season, MINT volunteers created shaded shelters to cover the top of the known nests from the summer rays to improve the survival rates of hatchlings.
Want to help? Here’s how:
You can play a huge role in the protection and conservation of sea turtles!
If you are on Magnetic Island and are lucky enough to witness any turtle nesting or hatching activity, make sure you contact MINT so that the volunteers can check on the nests.
The free ‘Eye on the reef’ app - a monitoring and assessment programme run by The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) - is also a great way for to assist with your own citizen science activity to report turtle and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park activity and log a digital marker of where you have seen the nest or hatching occur.
For more information, and to donate to MINT* to support Magnetic Island turtles, CLICK HERE
*All money raised will buy medical supplies and food for the local turtle hospital.