Threat­ened tur­tle warn­ing

North West Telegraph - - Telegraph News - Tay­lar Amonini

The lights sur­round­ing Ceme­tery Beach in Port Hed­land will be doused on October 30 to sig­nal the start of the highly an­tic­i­pated tur­tle sea­son.

Ex­cite­ment has been rip­pling through the coastal town as flat­back tur­tle sight­ings be­gin off­shore.

Care for Hed­land En­vi­ron­men­tal As­so­ci­a­tion co-or­di­na­tor Jo Smith said the sight­ings were a sign of a big sea­son ahead.

“There’s been a lot of sight­ings of tur­tles mat­ing around, which is a good in­di­ca­tor for them to come to shore and nest,” she said.

“It’s ex­cit­ing, but lo­cals need to re­mem­ber to give them space. Leave it alone, let it do its thing and if it’s on the way up to nest, do not dis­turb it.”

Ms Smith said if res­i­dents saw tur­tles around be­fore the sea­son be­gan, it was im­por­tant to leave them alone, oth­er­wise they risked dis­turb­ing fu­ture Hed­land pop­u­la­tions.

“If they don’t nest here and re­lease their hatch­lings, it will de­crease fu­ture numbers coming to the beach be­cause they lay their eggs where they were hatched from,” she said.

“If tur­tles stop, we even­tu­ally won’t see them again in Port Hed­land and they are a very im­por­tant part of the marine en­vi­ron­ment.”

The threat­ened species has been a sta­ple of the Port Hed­land land­scape, as well as a boom­ing tourism in­dus­try for the re­gional town.

To get in­volved and vol­un­teer to help Care for Hed­land mon­i­tor the flat­back tur­tles, visit care­forhed or visit its Face­book page.

Pic­ture: Ben Leahy

A mother flat­back tur­tle struggles up Ceme­tery Beach be­fore dig­ging a nest for her eggs.

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