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Flatback turtles nesting at Eighty Mile Beach

Nesting flatback turtle
Nesting flatback turtle Marissa Speirs DPaW

Hundreds of flatback turtles are gathering at Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park in the Kimberley for their annual nesting activities.

Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) officers and Nyangumarta Traditional Owners have been monitoring the area for the last six weeks, recording over 200 nests and 350 ‘false crawls’ in the sample area. False crawls occur when females attempt to nest but return to the water without laying eggs due to disturbance or unsuitable nesting habitat.

DPaW community education officer Sara McAllister said Eighty Mile Beach was a significant flatback turtle nesting site.

“Flatback turtles only nest in northern Australia and they are endemic to this part of the world.

“With the Nyangumarta Traditional Owners, we are currently monitoring turtle tracks on a 6km stretch of beach in front of the Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park and using cameras to record any predation on the nests.

“During last year’s nesting season, we counted 825 nests and 1410 false crawls in this same sample area so we are anticipating many more in the coming weeks.”

Ms McAllister said turtle viewing was a popular activity, but care needed to be taken to not disturb or impact the turtles or their nests.

“We encourage people to witness this amazing event while following the ‘Turtle Watchers Code of Conduct’ to enhance their chances of a rewarding experience,” she said.

“If people disturb the turtle, it will go back into the ocean without laying and the viewer will miss out on the opportunity to see any eggs being laid.”

Viewers can follow this simple guide to view a turtle nesting:

  • Move slow – avoid excess or sudden movement, crouch down to observe
  • No glow – avoid using lights and no flash photography
  • Stay low – keep out of a turtle’s line of site
  • Keep your distance and do not touch the turtles – if you get covered in sand, you are too close
  • Approach nesting turtles from behind
  • Be patient – she might make a few attempts to lay
  • Depart nesting beaches before 11pm to allow for a period of undisturbed nesting.

For hatchlings:

  • Do not touch
  • Let hatchlings make their own way to the beach
  • Don’t get between hatchlings and the ocean.

The 2013/14 turtle monitoring program at Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park is funded by DPaW and BHP Billiton Iron Ore.

The full ‘Turtle Watchers Code of Conduct’ is available on the DPaW website www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/management/marine/marine-wildlife/66-marine-turtles-in-western-australia

 

Media contact: DPaW Media 9219 9999

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dpawwa

Twitter: @WAPARKSWILDLIFE

 

Last modified on Thursday, 28 November 2013 12:08