This year over 5,450 turtles hatched on Sunshine Coast beaches between Alexandra Headlands and Alexandra Bay.
This is the largest recorded turtle-nesting season since monitoring began in 2007 by Coolum and North Shore Coast care volunteers. Between November 2017 and March 2018, 51 turtle nests were recorded, almost double the previous year.
Marine turtles locate their nesting site from the ocean. Research shows artificial light from coastal development deters sea turtles from nesting on light beaches.
In a natural environment, turtle hatchlings instinctively follow the moonlight to the ocean. However, the brightness of artificial light from developments along the coast can disorient turtle hatchlings, leading them towards development rather than the ocean.
The coastal stretch between South Peregian and Coolum Environmental Park, Yaroomba and Marcus beaches recorded the most turtle nests. These beaches are known as dark beaches, with limited glow from ambient light.
This season, three turtle nests were relocated to darker beaches. If left in the original location, the turtle hatchlings would have have travelled towards development, which was the brightest horizon.
With few dark beaches left on the Sunshine Coast, future development in this area must limit artificial light. A 2017 benchmark survey commissioned by Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay Councils reported Yaroomba Beach to be the darkest beach within the Sunshine Coast LGA. Coolum and North shore Coast Care would like to see turtle nesting beaches included in the State Government Coastal Management District Area and has written to Minister Enoch requesting it be considered as a matter of urgency.
Of the 51 recorded nests, 48 were loggerheads turtles and three were green turtles. Loggerhead turtles are classified as an Endangered species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, while green turtles are classified as a Vulnerable species.
CaNSCC believes that the Sekisui House high density development at Yaroomba will impact on a matter of national environmental significance and that the development application submitted for decision to the Sunshine Coast Council should be a referral under the EPBC Act 1999 to ensure there is no threat to the future of nesting marine turtles on Sunshine Coast beaches for the survival of the species into the future.
The 2017/2018 CaNSCC Turtle season report has been sent to all Sunshine Coast Councillors.
President - Coolum & North Shore Coast Care