Loggerhead Watch Project
Wreck Rock Beach is considered to be the second largest mainland nesting site (Mon Repos being the largest) and is located in the Burnett Mary region, within the boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Coastal light pollution from our Queensland shores is affecting the return of sexually mature adults, and in combination with nest predation, is reducing hatchling survival. Over the past few years, it has been estimated that as many as 80-90% of loggerhead clutches at Wreck Rock are suffering from predation by native and feral animals.
There is a real and major threat to loggerhead hatchling survival not only at Wreck Rock Beach, but on all of Queensland’s mainland beaches.
Thanks to Nev and Bev McLachlan and the volunteers of the Wreck Rock Turtle Research Team, turtle nesting monitoring has been occurring at Wreck Rock since 1974. Their dedication, in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s Queensland Turtle Conservation Project, has provided valuable information about the status of nesting populations, the changes that have occurred, and if current policy and management tools are sufficient.
This long-term monitoring has shown loggerhead hatchling survival is under threat from predators and there is a need for on-ground intervention.
What can we do?WWF and its partners are trialling a device to exclude predators and testing its effectiveness for protecting turtle nests, hoping to give loggerhead hatchlings the best chance of survival to reach the water’s edge.
We will also be using sensor cameras to detect predator activity and monitor nest and hatchling predation.
The Wreck Rock Turtle Research Team with the support of WWF, the Burnett Mary Regional Group and the Queensland Government will monitor the turtle nesting population and determine if the predator exclusion devices are effective. The team will also return during the peak hatchling period to assess if they have successfully emerged from their nests.
This project will contribute to the Queensland Turtle Conservation Project and inform future conservation planning and management.
If successful, these devices will not only be able to be used to reduce predator activity in future nesting seasons at Wreck Rock, but be trialled and tested at other turtle nesting beaches along Queensland’s coast.
Wreck Rock Turtle Research
Wreck Rock Beach is home to three species of marine turtle – primarily loggerheads but also greens, flatbacks, and leatherbacks – although they haven’t seen them since 1996. The Wreck Rock Turtle Research Team tirelessly monitors turtle nesting each year for eight weeks during the nesting season.
Nev and Bev are possibly the only turtle monitoring volunteers to have tagged and measured all six species of marine turtle in Queensland. These loggerhead turtles are being watched over by an incredible couple and support team.
So it’s hats off to Wreck Rock Turtle Research team – the loggerheads are a lot better off because of you and we THANK YOU!