Turtle survival success after cliff rescue

Photo by Turtlecare volunteer Jan Waters - one of the latest hatchlings to make it to the water alive and well at Rainbow Beach

Photo by Turtlecare volunteer Jan Waters – one of the latest hatchlings to make it to the water alive and well at Rainbow Beach

Nature doesn’t stop for lockdown and neither does caring for the sea turtle nests on Rainbow Beach.

Everyone in Rainbow Beach is getting out when they can for exercise; and expanses of beautiful, sandy beach are the perfect place for the locals to get their exercise. There’s plenty of room to practise physical distancing.

A small team of Cooloola Coastcare’s dedicated TurtleCare volunteers complete another mission while taking their daily walks. When they head out for walks at various times of the day and night, they check every nest looking for any signs of hatchlings.

Jan Waters, Steve and Rosie Douglas, Murray Sambell and Joan Burnett have coordinated their monitoring efforts to monitor and protect the nests.

The nest of a green turtle, “Bess”, became exposed when the cyclone passed offshore. Team members rescued the eggs from the erosion and dug a new nest higher up the dune and carefully relocated the eggs. Then followed the nervous wait to see if these babies had survived the storm and the relocation.

Teased by a single hatchling appearing from the nest on each of two nights, the TurtleCarers knew it couldn’t be long until they all ran. So they stood vigil but no more action. They continued more regular observations for the next 4 days.

Turtle Nest - photo by Jan Waters - May 2020Of course, the hatchlings managed to “run” in between visits by their babysitters at 1am and 4am and the TurtleCarers were rewarded with the sight of lots of little flipper prints leading to the sea.

Joan Burnett dug the hatched nest and the count of eggshells showed that 116 of the 124 relocated eggs had hatched safely and 110 had made it to the sea.

Six of the little hatchlings were trapped in the nest so, these were carefully taken close to the water and allowed to enter the sea, imprinting this location as their home. A fantastic result for these little guys who were nearly lost only weeks before.