Turtle hatchlings need our care

Monday 10 January 2011

Turtle hatchlings need our care


The moment a marine turtle hatchling pokes its nose out of its sandy nest the odds are against it. But with a little help from beach goers, these hatchlings could have a better chance at their mad dash to the ocean.

With marine turtle hatching season upon us, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is urging residents and visitors to be careful around nesting beaches.

GBRMPA's Ecosystem Conservation and Sustainable Use Manager Dr Mark Read said everyone could make a difference in helping hatchlings have a greater chance of survival.

"A hatchling's run to the ocean is a dangerous time where they must avoid predators, humans and even our pets," he said.

"If anyone spots a hatchling they should let them make their run to the water undisturbed. People should also make sure their dogs are on a leash so the hatchlings are not harassed or attacked while trying to cross the beach."

Dr Read said the use of lights at and near nesting beaches can also be particularly distracting for the hatchlings.

"Turtle hatchlings are attracted to artificial light and instead of heading to the ocean where they need to be, hatchlings can end up in campsites or even try to cross roads to get to the light source," he said.

"If we are to succeed in increasing the populations of these threatened species they must get off to a good start.

"The hatchlings we protect today will be part of the population that mate and lay eggs in about 30 years time, so we have a responsibility to future generations to look after these iconic creatures."

Dr Read said six of the world's seven species of marine turtles could be found within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and a number of islands and coastal beaches are used as nationally and internationally-important nesting sites.