Turtle tracking keeps Sunshine Coast marine life safe

Loggerhead turtle with tracker. | Newseel
GPS-enabled loggerhead turtle Mibir heads for the ocean | Photo: Adriana Watson

Volunteers are keeping a close eye on the movements of endangered loggerhead turtles, allowing Sunshine Coast Council to protect valuable habitats.

TurtleCare Sunshine Coast attaches GPS tracking devices to local turtles as part of a joint research project with the Queensland Government, using environmentally aware locals to help deliver on their goals.

A recent encounter involved a father and daughter on an evening walk coming across a turtle making her way up the beach at Wurtulla. It turned out to be a critically endangered loggerhead turtle, who was about to lay her first nest of the season in the dunes.

A call to TurtleCare Sunshine Coast and volunteers were able to fit her with the tracker which provides valuable data on her movements.

The turtle was given the name Mib’ir (pronounced Meebeer) – a Kabi Kabi language word which means “saltwater turtle” and went on to lay four more clutches of eggs over the summer and in the process provide valuable data about where turtles hang out off the coastline in between each nest.

Sunshine Coast Turtle Education Leader Leisa Baldwin said that while visiting our shore over the summer a nesting turtle can lay between three and five clutches of eggs before making their journey home.

“She won’t eat the whole time she is here – but will swim around, close to shore preparing to lay her next nest,” Ms Baldwin said.

“Thanks to the tracker secured to her shell, we know that Mib’ir loved to hang out at Currimundi Reef. It’s so fascinating to be able to track Mib’ir’s movements in real time and follow her on her journey home.

“As it turns out she is a Noosa local and is currently foraging on a reef off the coast of Teewah Beach on the southern end of the Great Sandy National Park.”

The tracking data is helping to discover how the turtles move around within the Blue Biosphere, which extends 5km to sea.

The data is used to create maps and give Council scientific evidence to be able to continue to plan and advocate for those habitats to be protected on land and in the ocean.

Geminid, a second critically endangered loggerhead turtle, received a tracker last December. She was given her name for the meteorite shower, which took place at that time and has laid three clutches this season.

When Geminid finished laying for the season, she wasted no time beginning her journey north as she jetted up the east side of K’gari, passed through the Southern Great Barrier Reef including a quick stopover at the outer reef of Lady Musgrave Island and is now at Hyde Rock Reef, just north of Yeppoon and south of Mackay.

Check out the journeys of a number of turtles on the Sunshine Coast Council website.

Crowd on beach with loggerhead turtle
Loggerhead turtle Geminid is sent on her way. | Photo: Shane Hastings

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