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‘Grand old lady’ makes 645km trip in four weeks

The world's oldest tagged turtle arriving at Mon Repos for her 13th nesting.
The world's oldest tagged turtle arriving at Mon Repos for her 13th nesting. Contributed

A 60-YEAR-OLD turtle known as the grand old lady of Mon Repos has thrilled scientists by travelling nearly 650km up the Queensland coast.

The flatback - the world's longest-studied marine turtle - was tracked from Bundaberg to feeding grounds in Repulse Bay, north-west of Mackay.

The travel secrets of the turtle - known as X23103 - were unlocked by a transmitter which provided researchers with a satellite record of her post-breeding migration.

"It really is an incredible journey by the grand old lady," Environment Minister Steven Miles said.

"We know she left Mon Repos on December 10, and t

ravelled 645km before arriving in Repulse Bay on January 7.

"During her 28-day journey she hugged the coast from Mon Repos to Gladstone and north to Byfield, then striking out into deeper water, through the Percy Islands and Cumberland island groups, before stopping at Repulse Bay just south of the Whitsundays," Dr Miles said.

"She's been foraging there in a fairly small area for the last six weeks, and it will be interesting to see where she goes next.

"We are following her travels over 4-5 months while the transmitter remains attached," he said.

The Queensland Government's turtle research program has been monitoring the "grand old lady' since 1974 - at the beginning of her breeding life, when she would have been about 21.

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Chief Scientist Dr Col Limpus said that over the 41 years she'd been studied, the turtle had been recorded in 15 seasons, coming ashore to lay on 72 occasions, always on the 1.6km of Mon Repos Beach.

"She laid four clutches (this season), starting with a clutch of 30 eggs on October 17, and all four of those clutches have hatched," Dr Limpus said.

Topics:  bundaberg, editors picks, mon repos, southern barrier reef, turtle




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