Woman sits on a turtle at Mon Repos (?) Beach. Ca 1930. Photo State Library of Queensland. Photo ID: API-100-0001-002Much has changed since this scene was captured in the 1930s. Marine turtles have faced serious problems and experienced great declines in numbers in the last seven decades. However, awareness of the plight of turtles has increased, and conservation efforts have brought successes in both understanding of turtle biology and in ways to halt their decline. Mon Repos Conservation Park, near Bundaberg on the Queensland Coast, supports the largest concentration of nesting sea turtles on the east Australian mainland. Nesting turtles at Mon Repos include the loggerhead, flatback, and green. At the peak of a prime nesting season, 20 or more turtles a night (mostly loggerheads) come ashore to nest on this 1.5km long sandy beach.
This small beach at Mon Repos, near Bundaberg, supports the largest concentration of nesting sea turtles on the east Australian mainland.
One of Australia’s most dedicated and successful conservation efforts has been based at Mon Repos. Decades of committed research by a small band of staff and volunteers has lead to a remarkable synthesis of research and public education. Access to the nesting beach at Mon Repos is controlled so that the turtles aren’t disturbed. However, people can still witness these ancient marine reptiles leaving the sea to nest as part of controlled groups led by experienced staff and volunteers from the Mon Repos Information Centre, run by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS).
- Information on Mon Repos Conservation Park and how to go turtle watching.
- Species information and status — Loggerhead Turtles.
- Migrating sea turtles have magnetic sense for longitude.
- How do marine turtles return to the same beach to lay eggs?
- Satellite tracking of Atlantic loggerheads.
- Turtle-riding on the Great Barrier Reef (thanks to Marion for this link)
- Woman riding turtle on Heron Island, photograph by Frank Hurley.
I don't think that unfortunate turtle being ridden in the first photo comes from Mon Repos – see http://www.animalsandsociety.org/assets/library/6…
Lovely photos, thank you. Though I find it hard to believe that female laying her eggs surrounded by gawping crowds wouldn't appreciate a little privacy!
Thanks for the comment Marion. That was a great reference link on turtle-riding, a fascinating read. I had suspected that the image was not taken at Mon Repos, as the turtles are Green Turtles, which are more common nesting on Great Barrier Reef islands than the coast (although they do nest at Mon Repos). The information stored with the image at the John Oxley Library though, does list it as being at Mon Repos Beach (young woman riding on the back of a turtle at Mon Repos Beach, near Bundaberg, ca. 1930. Accession number: 6296 Collection reference: API-100 Photograph Album of Bundaberg Album: API-100). Doesn't mean that the data is correct though, as I'm sure you'd know more than I would!
And yes, I agree that a sensitive and intelligent reptile like a Loggerhead might prefer to be left alone to lay eggs. Probably many, if not all, of the turtle-researchers and rangers I met would prefer to leave them alone too (personally I'd be happy just to know that they are just there somewhere). However, the days for non-human interference with marine turtles have long gone, and any chance of their survival (for Loggerheads anyway) depends on human intervention in key stages their life-cycle. Since a successful survival strategy for turtles must include public education, there's a judgement call there on allowing people controlled access, which of course has plusses and minuses. Doesn't matter what management approach Parks and Wildlife staff take with native fauna, there will always be those who disagree with the approach taken (for e.g. dingo management on Fraser Island), and I guess that has to be expected.
Thanks again, I will spend some time on your blog, it looks very interesting, really liked your article on kookaburras. Cheers, Robert
Great article and I like your conclusion a lot. The time for non-interference is long gone. But no matter how hard they try, people actually leading conservation efforts always get in trouble. I guess it's the nature of the beast. It'll speed up your ascend to sainthood… 😉
The web site looks great, by the way!
I've always loved turtles since I was a kid but have never seen them in the wild like this. Little did I know they were so close to home. Thanks for this beautiful article.
Thanks Russell and Vince, glad you liked the article, and thanks for your comments, most appreciated. Hope all is well in your respective parts of the northern hemisphere. Cheers, Rob.
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