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NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service comment on Dunbogan Beach turtle hatching

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service comment on Dunbogan Beach turtle hatching

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)  have confirmed hatchlings found on the beach on February 25 are the endangered species Loggerhead Turtles.

On February 25 Dunbogan woman Helen Baldry and her husband Rob witnessed turtles hatching from the sand on Dunbogan beach.

They said they found about five turtles in a nest.

As it was an extremely hot day the couple tried to keep the hatchings shaded as they made their way to the water’s edge.

“It was the most amazing experience to witness,” Ms Baldry said

“I’m happy to say all five made to the water and we watched them head out to sea.

“We spend a lot of time on the beach and have never seen a hatching in this in this area before.”

NPWS Lower North Coast Branch ranger Andy Marshall said the Baldrys were fortunate to witness the event first hand.

Mr Marshall said the hatching of a turtle nest usually happens during the night and in NSW there are no identifiable rookery (collection of nests) beaches where research or tourism operations would enhance the chances of timing the observations.

Over the summer of 2016/2017 the NPWS local office in Port Macquarie has been made aware of as many as six possible separate turtle nesting events in the area from about Point Plomer down to Crowdy Head.

Mr Marshall said the only times there would be turtles on Hastings beaches would be either when a female has come ashore to nest or when a nest has hatched and the babies are scurrying their way back to the ocean.

“Sadly however, we do tend to see a number of turtles each year ashore as they have succumbed to some form of illness or injury,” he said.

Mr Marshall said the hatching rate of the nest on February 25 was very high due to the observation of many tracks in the sand through the photos.

He believes the hatchlings would have been predominantly females.

“Sand temperature during incubation also has an impact on gender determination,” he said.

“Embryos developing below about 25C (which is common for NSW nests) tend to be dominated by males.”

Mr Marshall said the temperature on February 25 would have been well over 25 degrees.

“Almost certainly hatchlings would have been predominantly females which from a breeding point of view is far more valuable,” he said.

Hatchlings are believed to orient their first rush to the ocean based on heading towards the pale horizon on the ocean and possibly the pre-dawn sky.

Mr Marshall said once the baby turtles hit the ocean they generally head due east and just swim for a few days into deep pelagic waters.

“Away from the coast and its higher number of predatory fish and seabirds, and into the East Australian Current,” he said.

“From there, we don’t see them again for years, as they will spend between the next 15 to 25 years out in the deep ocean currents circulating the Pacific.”

Mr Marshall said only 1 in 100, to 1 in 1000 survive from hatchlings to be mature resident adults.

He said every hatchling from every nest is critical for the survival of the species and the local populations the region.

“Far more so the female dominated nests like this one probably was.”

If people see a female nesting track, hatching, or an adult turtle in distress they are advised to contact the NPWS office on 6588 5555.

  • Photo by: Krystal Karbowiak