Goanna-proof fence saves 90 baby turtles in Torres Strait.
A GOANNA-proof fence erected around the first green turtle nest to have been found on a Torres Strait island in many years, has saved the lives of more than 90 baby turtles.
Rangers successfully kept predators, including feral animals, out of the nest that was recently spotted on Masig Island.
The fence remained there for eight weeks, to give the eggs time to incubate and hatch.
Torres Strait Regional Authority chairman Joseph Elu said the marine turtles had not been laying their eggs at the island for quite some time.
“Its location was in a high traffic area next to the wharf where locals anchor their boats, so putting protection measures in places was very important,’’ he said.
“The Masig rangers monitored the site every day to ensure the fencing was secure and there weren’t any issues, and in case the turtles hatched early.”
The eggs produced 92 hatchlings, two of which were killed by ghost crabs, with the remaining counted and released by the rangers.
Mr Elu said the turtles returned to breed at the location they hatched from.
“We hope that these baby turtles return to Masig to breed in the future,’’ he said.
“The Masig Rangers have been monitoring for nesting turtles around the island regularly to protect these nests.
“The rangers have also been conducting awareness sessions with the community to talk about the importance of protecting turtle nests.”
Although goannas are native animals, they pose a serious threat to populations of green turtles, which are listed as vulnerable species in Queensland.
Green turtles that nest in Australian waters migrate from numerous feeding grounds that are dispersed through Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia as well as from Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.
According to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, they make long migrations between feeding grounds and nesting beaches, with some turtles found to have swum more than 2600km.
The northern Great Barrier Reef has five major rookeries including Raine Island and nearby cays, and Bramble Cay in the Torres Strait.
The south-eastern Gulf of Carpentaria has three major rookeries at Bountiful, Pisonia and Rocky islands.
It takes a female green turtle 30-40 years to reach maturity.
In general, female green turtles lay about 115 round, ping-pong ball sized, parchment-shelled eggs, per clutch.
Each nesting season she returns to the beach to nest an average of five times at fortnightly intervals.