Michael Johnston, Gary Brandon and Nick McLean are working on the lighting issue at Nielson Park Beach.
Michael Johnston, Gary Brandon and Nick McLean are working on the lighting issue at Nielson Park Beach. Max Fleet BUNTUR

Bundy park now more turtle-friendly

NEW lighting at Nielson Park has made the beach more turtle-friendly, thanks to co-operation between Bundaberg Regional Council and the Sea Turtle Alliance.

Two external lights have been removed from the toilet block building and sensor lights have been installed inside the toilets, while light poles around the park have been retrofitted with recessed amber LEDs.

These emit a much softer glow - making the beach more attractive for turtles, who prefer darkness, especially when it comes to nesting.

"The turtles want a dark environment, and in a populated area that creates a whole lot of issues," Sea Turtle Alliance president Gary Brandon said.

"Mon Repos is our best nesting beach because of the fact it has a very dark backdrop.

"On the other beaches like Nielson Park, the turtles tend to shy away because of the light."

The council met with Mr Brandon and John Gatley from the alliance to discuss lighting issues in the park.

"Some of it we were able to execute pretty quickly at a very low cost," Michael Johnson, operational supervisor for parks and open space at council said.

"We've been able to keep the glow from those buildings really low."

The lighting on the beach is one step in a long road towards improving the environment for turtles in the area.

"As long as it's a light that's under council's control, we've got full scope to retrofit it to something that's more beneficial to turtles and doesn't disorientate them as much," council's natural resources manager Nick Maclean said.

"But it's a very incremental process, very complex.

"When you start looking at street lights and things like that, the complexity increases and it's more difficult to find a solution.

"We're working with Ergon as well to see what lights are problematic and do what we can to fix them.

"We're lucky to have the Sea Turtle Alliance and Dr Col Limpus, who works for the Environmental Heritage and Protection Department - he's been researching turtles here for 40 years.

"We're lucky to have that wealth of knowledge to draw on."

The new lights have made a big impact, Gary Brandon says.

"It's made a huge difference, it really has," he said.

"This beach is so much darker than it was.

"This was a really good small outcome."

But he added the bigger picture was a much bigger issue. Turtles face many other dangers, including items like plastic bags which end up in the ocean.

Loggerhead turtles often confuse them for jellyfish, which are their main source of food, and ingest them.



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