Thousands of turtles nesting at Raine Island


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It is shaping up as a spectacular turtle breeding season on Raine Island, which runs from November to March. IMAGE: Mike Ball.

TURTLE season is in full swing at Raine Island National Park (Scientific) at Queensland’s northern tip, with more than 20,000 green turtles waiting in the sapphire waters to nest on newly profiled beaches.

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said the Raine Island Recovery Project team was excited to see early results from their efforts to restore and maintain the island’s vital conservation role.

“Raine Island is a globally important turtle sanctuary, which is why the Queensland Government has joined with BHP, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Traditional Owners and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to invest in the future of this tiny but significant place,” Ms Enoch said.

“It’s a great boost to actually see turtles nesting on the beach areas the team worked so hard to re-profile, and it highlights that this work is making a real difference.”

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) Raine Island Recovery Project Manager, Tina Alderson, reports that it is shaping up as a cracker of a season on the remote island.

“We’ve just finished the second trip of this nesting season as part of the five-year recovery project,” Alderson said.

“More than 20,000 turtles were aggregating around the island in near-millpond conditions….in drone photos, they looked like stars in a dark sky.

During the recent trip to the island, rangers, researchers and Traditional Owners looked at the nesting success of the turtles in the areas where sand re-profiling works were done with heavy machinery this August.

“We’re already seeing some hatchlings this season, and the team was excited to see that the best nesting success on the island was in the re-profiled part of the beach,” Alderson said.

Alderson said turtles weren’t the only study subjects, with researchers also conducting seabird surveys using drone, acoustic and visual on-ground techniques, counting more than 1750 breeding pairs of brown boobies. 

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