WHILE locals and tourists have been enjoying the Sunshine Coast's beaches, our sandy playground has also been visited by a green sea turtle who laid the first nest of the season in the Bokarina dunes.
And TurtleCare volunteers were again on hand to protect the eggs, which they will do for every nest created over the coming two or so months.
"The volunteers were on their sunrise patrol when they noticed the tracks and were able to cover the nest with anti-predator mesh as well as collect information for the Queensland Turtle Conservation Project,” Council's Environment Portfolio chair, Cr Jenny McKay, said.
"In an effort to rebuild the dwindling turtle populations, our TurtleCare volunteers do a remarkable job helping relocate nests, recording numbers, identifying species and protecting nests from predators.
"Last season between November 2015 and May 2016, 143 registered volunteers contributed an estimated 4766 hours patrolling our beaches early mornings and late afternoons.
"The first nesting turtle was spotted on November 14 and from 66 nests and 116 nesting events, around 6400 turtle hatchlings emerged between Caloundra and Pt Cartwright.
"A further 15 nests were recorded on the northern end of the Coast by Coolum and North Shore Coast Care.
"Local residents are also clearly enthusiastic about our ocean voyagers with a number of people calling the TurtleCare hotline to report the weekend's sighting.”
TurtleCare group leader Myrl Allison said the sighting was particularly exciting as it turned out to be a green sea turtle which was very rare to the area.
"We actually weren't expecting there to be any turtles for at least another week, so the weekend sighting was quite a surprise to begin with,” Ms Allison said.
"We were delighted to have spotted the first tracks of the season on the Sunshine Coast but then to also identify from the different style of track that it was a green sea turtle, made it a truly wonderful find.
"It would appear we only just missed seeing our first turtle going by the tracks only recently entering the water's edge however we hope to spot her in the region again within 10 to 14 days to lay more eggs.
"It took us a good two and a half hours to find and secure the nest in the end.”
Anyone fortunate enough to come across a nesting turtle or turtle tracks over the coming months can help by:
Reporting sightings to TurtleCare on 0437 559 067 (Mooloolaba to Caloundra), or Coolum and North Shore Coast Care on 0403 370 157 (Mudjimba to Noosa).
Remember that turtles are timid on land and will not lay if frightened, turn off torches and sit down quietly at a distance.
Ensure that dogs are secured on leashes and kept well away. (Refer to beach access signage for information on dog rules.)
Understand that there is no turtle friendly lighting. Coastal residents can actively support turtle conservation by turning off lights through the night.
Dispose of all rubbish carefully during the turtle season.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.