It’s official – the turtle season is here!
The bells will ring across Bundaberg tomorrow as the region celebrates the first turtle to come ashore to nest this season.
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said the flatback turtle, who came ashore last night, was extra special.
“She was identified as the world’s longest studied turtle! This 70-year-old turtle first nested at Mon Repos beach in 1974, making this is her 17th breeding season here,” Ms Enoch said.
“The Mon Repos Turtle Volunteers spotted her while on patrol last night, she was in the dunes digging her egg chamber.
“Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers joined volunteers on the beach to record the nesting event and can report that she laid 33 eggs last night.”
This turtle was a little earlier than usual for nesting season, but turtles have been seen at this time, on occasion, in past seasons.
The annual ringing of the bells will take place tomorrow to celebrate the first turtle coming ashore.
“The annual ringing of the bells is a beloved tradition in Bundaberg and is a reminder of how crucial the region is to the conservation of endangered loggerhead turtles,” Ms Enoch said.
“Junior Turtle Ranger students from St Lukes Anglican School will be the first to ring Bundaberg’s Christ Church bells.
“Bells will also ring at Bargara’s Anglican St Peter’s Church with help from students from Bargara State school and St John’s the Baptist at Burnett Heads.
“Many other schools and kindergartens will also be dusting off the old school bells to join in with the ringing of the bells to welcome the turtle season.
“Mon Repos supports the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and is home to the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific region.”
Each season from 15 October to 30 April, Mon Repos beach closes to the public from 6pm-6am to ensure protection for threatened marine turtles.
Visitors can encounter turtle’s nesting and hatching on Mon Repos shores between November and March each year, with the Nightly Turtle Encounter tours commencing 9 November. Tickets are available now.
“The phenomenon can also be witnessed year-round in an immersive theatre room at the new $22 million turtle centre, which will be opened next month,” Minister Enoch said.