Nest to ocean program to save more turtle hatchlings

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon

The Queensland Government is asking for innovative solutions to help protect marine turtle nests and hatchlings through the Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program.

Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the Queensland Government is committed to improving the survival rates of threatened marine turtle hatchlings by protecting their nests and nesting habitats.

“Today I am launching Round Six of the Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program, which provides $600,000 for active nest protection and predator control efforts,” Ms Scanlon said.

“This funding is part of $1.27 million provided by the Queensland Government in 2020-21 to support the conservation of marine turtles.

“Since the program began in 2014, grant recipients have monitored more than 20,000 turtle nests and improved nest survival rates to 85 per cent due to predator control activities and direct nest protection.

“Importantly, it is estimated that 1.3 million hatchlings have made their way to the ocean since the program began.

“Funding of up to $150,000 is available for projects that maintain, adapt and strengthen existing direct management efforts at key nesting beaches and foraging grounds.

“Queensland’s unique environment is one of our major attractions, with the promise of seeing a turtle lay eggs or witness hatchling baby turtles make their first dash to the ocean drawing tourists from around the world.

“Which is why the protection of our flora and fauna is also so important to help maintain domestic tourism for the regions and to rebuild international tourism once it resumes, Ms Scanlon said.

Not-for-profit organisations, indigenous corporations, tertiary education institutions and Natural Resource Management groups are encouraged to apply for funding.

Project activities may include:

  • Removal of weeds and invasive species whose roots negatively impact the incubation success of eggs.
  • Shade management to reduce the impacts of increasing sand temperatures on egg success and hatchling gender ratio.
  • Increased dune vegetation to provide a dark horizon to minimise light disruption on hatchlings and adult turtles.
  • Restoration of sand dunes on nesting beaches.
  • Removal of beach debris that impedes successful nesting, including “ghost” nets.

The Minister said Queensland is home to six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles, and all are considered threatened due to climate change, loss of habitat and predation.

“Feral pigs and foxes have learned to dig up clutches and feed on the eggs, so protecting nests and hatchlings is crucial for the sustainability of marine turtle populations,” she said.

“Funding is available for projects to be conducted at specific turtle rookeries on the east coast of Cape York, the Torres Strait, Great Barrier Reef coastal catchments and coastal islands.

“Our First Nations Peoples across Queensland and the Torres Strait have cultural, social and spiritual ties to marine turtles.

“The Queensland Government will be working with our First Nations Peoples to help manage land and sea country to protect and conserve our marine turtles.”

Applications close at 4pm Friday 26 February 2021.

Projects must be completed by June 2021. The total amount of funds available in this round is $600,000. Applicants may seek funding for grants up to $150,000.

Since 2014, more than $7 million in State and Commonwealth funding has been approved for projects under the Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program.

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