Ranger Cathy Gatley discusses the arrival of the seaon’s first turtle with junior turtle rangers Bradley Ekblad and Maddy Barr, of Burnett Heads State School.
Ranger Cathy Gatley discusses the arrival of the seaon’s first turtle with junior turtle rangers Bradley Ekblad and Maddy Barr, of Burnett Heads State School. Scottie Simmonds

Bells welcome first turtle

JUNIOR turtle rangers from St Luke’s Anglican School will ring the church bells this morning to herald the arrival of the first turtle of the nesting season at Mon Repos Beach.

The tracks of the first turtle were spotted on the beach yesterday morning by rangers on their first patrol of the day.

“This year’s ‘First Lady’ was a flatback turtle who went up to the grass dune but didn’t begin to dig,” climate change and sustainability minister Kate Jones said.

“That’s normal behaviour for turtles, who can come ashore several times before they lay their eggs.”

The official turtle watching program starts on Saturday, November 6, but rangers and volunteers have been patrolling the beaches early this year to make sure all nesting events are recorded.

“The first turtle ashore is often a flatback turtle, as they tend to start nesting a little earlier than loggerheads or greens,” Ms Jones said.

The bells at the Christ Church Anglican Church will be rung at 10.30am today, with Father Iain Furby joining the St Luke’s pupils to welcome the first turtle.

The students are also taking part in the “Cut the Glow to help Turtles Go” school project.

“There is a Scottish tradition of ringing the church bells to alert family and friends to the imminent return of the fishing fleet after weeks at sea,” Ms Jones said.

“Last year, our church bells welcomed the first of our own ‘ancient mariners’ to arrive on the beaches of the Woongarra coastline.”

Ms Jones said the ringing of the church bells was a great way to let the community know the turtle season had begun and she was delighted it was turning into a local tradition.

“Many people are captivated by these threatened marine turtles and look forward to the nesting and hatching seasons each year,” she said.

Hugo, the mascot of the Cut The Glow project, will also be present for the ringing of the bells and will take a walk around the main streets of Bundaberg and coastal communities to ensure locals are aware of the arrival of his nesting friends.



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