Hun­dreds on beach to see tur­tles nest

North West Telegraph - - News - Robert Dougherty

Hed­land’s flat­back tur­tle sea­son is of­fi­cially in full swim, with a wave of vis­i­tors, res­i­dents and vol­un­teers headed out on beach pa­trol.

Al­most 900 peo­ple strolled down to Ceme­tery Beach to view the tur­tles over the Novem­ber 17 week­end, ac­cord­ing to the Care For Hed­land En­vi­ron­men­tal As­so­ci­a­tion.

“These beach spec­ta­tor num­bers are much higher than what Care For Hed­land have recorded in previous years,” said evening pro­gram co-or­di­na­tor Leah Schwartzen­tru­ber.

“Although Care For Hed­land had higher spec­ta­tor num­bers, all that were present were still able to wit­ness sea tur­tles nest­ing safely, while fol­low­ing the proper view­ing code of con­duct.”

Ms Schwartzen­tru­ber said the tur­tles were cur­rently in peak nest­ing, but were in slightly lower recorded num­bers than last year.

“For those that missed this day­time nest­ing oc­cur­rence, the next lot of day­time nest­ing is ex­pected (de­pend­ing on high tide times) on De­cem­ber 1 and 2,” she said.

More than 100 peo­ple also at­tended three mon­i­tor­ing and con­ser­va­tion train­ing ses­sions hosted at the beach in late Oc­to­ber.

The ses­sions ex­plained tur­tle bi­ol­ogy, threats, track mon­i­tor­ing, oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety, tur­tle nest­ing stages and ex­am­i­na­tion of previous re­sults from the beach and Pretty Pool Beach.

CFH morn­ing co-or­di­na­tor Kelly Ben­ham said the vol­un­teer pro­gram rep­re­sented a cost­ef­fec­tive way for the com­mu­nity to be in­volved in the pro­tec­tion of threat­ened species and their habi­tats.

“Not only will this pro­gram pro­vide ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion of mon­i­tor­ing to man­age­ment agen­cies, it will also as­sist in the de­vel­op­ment of ed­u­ca­tion ma­te­ri­als,” she said.

“Brochures, in­for­ma­tion sheets and stick­ers that will all as­sist in rais­ing com­mu­nity aware­ness about flat­back tur­tles and the threats to it among lo­cal com­mu­nity and tourists.

“And for any­one who is still in­ter­ested in be­com­ing in­volved, it is not too late. We will train you up on the beach.”

About 111 peo­ple are listed on the group’s vol­un­teer reg­is­ter.

A flat­back sea tur­tle at Ceme­tery Beach viewed by res­i­dents.

A spec­ta­tor films a pass­ing tur­tle.

A flat­back sea tur­tle leav­ing its nest.

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