People from around the world watch as a loggerhead turtle covers the eggs she has just laid at Mon Repos.
People from around the world watch as a loggerhead turtle covers the eggs she has just laid at Mon Repos. RON BURGIN

Baby boom for turtles

THE Mon Repos turtle rookery is gearing for a boom of boys after recent rains cooled the sand at the conservation park.

Department of Environment and Resource Management marine and freshwater ecology chief scientist Dr Col Limpus said the sex of the hatchlings were determined by the temperature of the sand the eggs were in.

“Normally the important loggerhead rookery at Mon Repos near Bundaberg produces a lot of females, as it has slightly darker sand which heats up more,” he said.

“This season, Mon Repos has had a lot of rain which has cooled the sand. That will result in more males out of the nests laid early at Mon Repos. If there’s less rain for the rest of the nesting season, more females will result.”

Dr Limpus said research into the shading of the sand was continuing at Mon Repos with a University of Queensland student conducting a study using shade-cloth covered areas.

Dr Limpus said the effect of climate change on the loggerhead turtles would not be as large as expected.

“Sea turtles have been around about 80 million years and have shown the capacity to cope with a range of changes to climate and their environment. They have lived through ice ages and warm periods,” he said.

Dr Limpus said there were more pressing concerns for turtles nesting along the Woongarra Coast.

“The increase in light on the horizon behind the nesting beaches decreases the number of turtles coming in to nest, and disorients hatchling turtles,” he said.



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