Marine turtles

Turtle hatchlings

Six of the world’s seven species of marine turtle have been recorded in Moreton Bay, including loggerhead, green, hawksbill, leatherback, olive ridley and flatback turtles. Green and loggerhead turtles are the most commonly encountered in coastal waters.

The Moreton Bay Region is also privileged to have small numbers of loggerhead turtles nesting each year on Bribie Island. Loggerhead turtles have also nested sporadically on Redcliffe's sandy beaches.

Loggerhead turtle facts

  • Loggerhead turtles are long-lived and do not breed until around 30 years of age. Nesting females will return to nest near the beaches where they were born.
  • A nesting female will lay an average of 125 eggs per clutch and usually lays several clutches of eggs in a season. Females nest every 2 to 6 years.
  • As part of their development, loggerhead turtle hatchlings undergo transoceanic migration. They are observed in waters off the coast of South America. It is believed they spend around 16 years in this phase before returning to foraging areas off the east coast of Australia.
  • Threats to loggerhead turtles include:
    • marine debris like plastics and discarded fishing gear
    • boat strike
    • fisheries by-catch
    • vehicle damage to nests
    • predation of nests by feral animals such as pigs and foxes
    • artificial lighting.   

Turtles and lighting

Most turtle nesting and hatching happens at night under the cover of darkness. Turtle hatchlings rely on cues, including lighting and topography, to navigate towards the ocean when they emerge from nests. In developed coastal areas, hatchlings may be disoriented by artificial lighting. This can cause them to head landward instead of to the ocean. Bright lights may also prevent adult turtles from nesting and cause them to dump their eggs at sea.

Lighting can affect turtles in varied and subtle ways. Disturbance can be from a single point source or the collective ‘glow’ from developed coastal areas. Council is investigating the modification of light fixtures in public areas along foreshores to reduce spillover onto turtle nesting beaches, with due consideration to public safety.

Find out more about turtles and lighting.

What is Council doing?

  • Council carries out ongoing rehabilitation of sand dunes through native species plantings in turtle nesting areas.
  • Council has started a sand back-passing trial at Woorim Beach to replenish areas of beach.
  • Council has worked with volunteer turtle monitors on Bribie Island to install shade cloth barriers behind turtle nests to reduce turtle hatchling disorientation.
  • Council works with Energex and other stakeholders through education and infrastructure upgrades, where practical, to minimise light spill over on our beaches especially Woorim Beach during turtle nesting season.
  • Council is working alongside other Council’s in a collaborative project to monitor sand temperatures on turtle nesting beaches. This work will inform the development of long-term management strategies to increase turtle nesting habitat suitability.

What can residents do?

  • Keep off sand dunes. These are highly sensitive areas and provide critical habitat for nesting turtles.
  • Dispose of plastics and unwanted fishing gear responsibly.
  • When operating vessels, reduce speeds in estuaries, sandy straights and shallow inshore areas. Follow directions in go slow areas for turtles and dugong.
  • Avoid shining bright lights on beaches at night during turtle nesting season between November and April.
  • If you live next to a beach, consider switching off unnecessary lights and close your curtains and blinds from 7:30 PM.
  • Join a Council Bushcare group. Bushcare gives you the opportunity to participate in hands-on conservation and restoration activities.

Further information