baby turtles arrive late in season
On May 5th a Saturday night visitors to Hearnes Lake Beach, north of Coffs Harbour, witnessed the rare and incredible site of Loggerhead turtles hatching from a nest and making their way to the ocean.
“In total 52 turtles hatched from the nest and made it to the ocean”, reported Dolphin Marine Magic veterinarian, Duan March. “Unfortunately some of these did not make it on the day with 18 being found on the shoreline on Sunday morning”, Duan said.
“An inspection of the nest today revealed a further 22 deceased hatchlings and 22 live that have been taken in for care.
“Even though only 1 in 1000 turtles makes it to maturity, this has been an amazing scientific event for the Coffs Coast area”, he said.
A Hearnes Lake resident reported to National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) that a nest was laid on the 27th January. “It looks like the nest incubated for 96 days before the hatchlings emerged, which is considerably longer than normal”, said Mark Watt, NPWS Ranger. “The turtles are really on the southern end of their range along the Coffs Coast and it is unusual for a nest here to successfully hatch out. Often predators such as dogs and foxes destroy the nest, or ocean surges inundate it and kill the eggs”.
Visitors to Hearnes Lake also helped out on the day by ensuring the turtles made it to ocean without being taken by predators such as raptors, seagulls and kookaburras.
The Loggerhead turtle is one of the four species of turtles that inhabit the Coffs Coast and is considered to be endangered. The other three are the Green, Hawksbill and Leatherback turtle. The Leatherback turtle is also endangered and the Green turtle is considered a threatened species.
Ranger Mark Watt complimented the assistance received from the public in notifying the NPWS of the presence of the nest, and monitoring it until the hatchlings emerged. “This type of information is vital for keeping records in our wildlife database and will contribute to knowledge supporting the survival of these marine reptiles”, said Mark.
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