Delighted researchers say the largest loggerhead turtle rookery in the South Pacific is bouncing back after being battered by Queensland’s wild weather last year.
The Mon Repos Conservation Park on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef was devastated by floods and cyclones, which swept away an estimated 60 per cent of last year’s clutches of eggs.
But the turtles have returned this year and already researchers are reporting hundreds of hatchlings emerging from nests on the site near Bundaberg in Queensland.
Queensland’s loggerhead turtle research program head Col Limpus says the region is vital for the survival of the threatened species.
“(Mon Repos) is now supporting the biggest concentration of loggerheads for the whole of the South Pacific,” Dr Limpus said.
“The extensive protection of turtles in the national parks system, this is all way ahead of what almost all other countries are doing on the sort of grand scale for looking after sea turtles.”
It’s believed up to 350 loggerhead turtles will lay up to 130 eggs per clutch during the nesting months of November and January with the hatchlings emerging eight weeks later.
The turtle nesting and hatching is also a popular tourism activity with guided tours attracting as many as 30,000 tourists to the region.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services officer Lisa Emmert said it was a relief the turtles had recovered from last year’s setbacks.
“We are really excited to be here and seeing the whole process continue as it does and has done for thousands of years.”