With the Great Barrier Reef just offshore the Queensland coastline is home to many marine creatures. Turtles are one of the most commonly seen and you don’t even need to get wet to see them.
The beaches at the southern end of the reef, between Bundaberg and 1770, are popular breeding grounds for various species of turtles, including Loggerhead, Flatback and Green Turtles.
The largest turtle rookery in the South Pacific is at Mon Repos Conservation Park, which is 14 kilometres from Bundaberg. Between November and February each year adult female turtles come ashore after dark to dig nests, lay their eggs and cover them before heading back to sea. Six to eight weeks later the eggs hatch and the hatchlings emerge to the surface of the sand and scramble to the sea.
|Visitors meet a turtle hatchling before it is released to head to sea. Bundaberg, Australia.|
Visitors are divided into groups and taken to the beach under the guidance of a ranger. If you time your visit between late December and February it is quite likely you will see both a nesting adult female laying her eggs and some hatchlings making the dash to the sea. I watched an adult turtle start digging a nest very close to an existing nest and when the hatchlings emerged from this other nest the first thing they experienced was a face full of sand from the digging adult alongside!
|Turtle hatchling emerges from the nest as an adult female lays eggs at a new nest nearby, Bundaberg, Austrlia.|
The turtles are wild animals and come and go as they please. Visitors are kept at the Visitor Centre and able to look around the informative displays on turtle behaviour and biology until suitable turtles have arrived and settled into their nest-digging. There is also a presentation to keep guests amused if the turtles are taking their time.
It is an amazing experience and one that you can witness. The Mon Repos Visitor Centre operates tours each night during breeding season. Admission numbers are limited so it is advisable to book ahead.
Have you ever seen turtles nesting or hatching?