FIFTY YEARS: Cathy Gatley and Dr Col Limpus talking about the turtles at Mon Repo.
FIFTY YEARS: Cathy Gatley and Dr Col Limpus talking about the turtles at Mon Repo. Paul Donaldson BUN181117TURT1

Col celebrates a huge 50 years with the turtles

"HELLO, old girl” is becoming a common greeting at Mon Repos each summer.

But it could have been a different story, without decades of turtle research and conservation action by Queensland Government officers.

This summer at Mon Repos Conservation Park near Bundaberg, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection's Chief Scientist Dr Col Limpus is marking 50 continuous years of research at Australia's most important mainland loggerhead turtle rookery.

A party was held at Mon Repos Saturday for Mr Limpus to celebrate his work. Work that's seen the number of nesting loggerhead turtles increase.

His research helped convince the Queensland Government to declare the waters off Mon Repos a marine park in 1990 and to make turtle exclusion devices compulsory on fishing trawlers in 2001.

While loggerhead turtles are still on the threatened species list, the population increase is great news for conservation and ecotourism.

Mon Repos also sees a small number of the vulnerable flatback and green turtles.

Dr Limpus gets excited when an "old girl” comes ashore, as she is a turtle his team tagged while she dug a nest in the 1970s.

It's even more rewarding to see a turtle tagged as a hatchling reach breeding age - which thanks to the Queensland research, we know takes about 30 years - and come back to lay for the first time.

"Turtle research has to be long-term,” Dr Limpus said.

"These are long-lived creatures that take decades to mature, and we don't see the impacts of conservation measures for many years.”

For the 50th it was fitting that in late October the first turtle to nest was an "old girl” - a flatback turtle, X23103.



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