Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Turtle Nests on a Queensland Beach

Outfoxing foxes has resulted in many more baby turtles being given a chance at life in central Queensland.

Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said fox-baiting programs have led to a dramatic turnaround in the marine turtle populations in the Bundaberg region.

"Since comprehensive fox-baiting programs were introduced we've seen a remarkable turnaround," Ms Jones said.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s as many as 90 per cent of turtle nests were destroyed by foxes.

Less than five per cent of nests now fall victim to the feral dogs, Ms Jones said.

During the latest nesting season at the protected turtle hatchery of Mon Repos staff and volunteers recorded about 1600 turtle nests with about 200,000 eggs laid.

"No clutches were destroyed by foxes along the Woongarra Coast this year," Ms Jones said.

"A few hatchlings were eaten on the beach by foxes.

"Without fox control, large numbers of these nests would not have survived and most of the eggs would have been destroyed."

The Bundaberg coast, south of the Burnett River, hosts the eastern Australian shoreline's biggest population of nationally threatened marine turtles including loggerhead, flatback and green turtles.

Mon Repos beach on the Bundaberg coastline also supports the largest loggerhead turtle population within the South Pacific Ocean region.

Ms Jones said the benefits of the fox baiting program would be seen on the adult turtle population over the next decade.

"Loggerhead turtles take 30 years to mature so the impact of protecting turtle nests from foxes in 1990 will not be seen on the nesting beaches with increased numbers of resulting adults until one generation later, in about 2020," she said.

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