Dr Blair Witherington is an international sea turtle expert who will visit the Bundaberg next month.
Dr Blair Witherington is an international sea turtle expert who will visit the Bundaberg next month.

Florida turtle expert to shed light on region's glow issues

CONTROLLING the effects of spill lighting on Mon Repos turtles will be the focus of a visit to the region by a prominent sea turtle biologist next month.

Dr Blair Witherington, from Florida, is being sponsored by Greenfleet and the Prince's Trust Australia to visit the region to ascertain the long-term survival of Bundaberg's nesting turtles.

Environment and Natural Resources spokesman Cr Bill Trevor said Dr Witherington's visit was part of the Low Glow campaign being championed by Greenfleet with its project partners The Prince's Trust and Disney.

Cr Trevor said for the fist time last year, hatchlings returned to the beach at Mon Repos because of the glow of lights from Bargara.

"This has happened previously but only at beaches such as Bargara,” he said.

"In the wake of that occurrence, we hope to establish strategies that will ensure the ongoing survival of our turtle populations and the continued use of Mon Repos as a nesting beach.

"Dr Witherington will meet with council, environmental groups such as Sea Turtle Alliance, business leaders and the general community.

"The need for more turtle-friendly lighting or even the use of smart technology to turn off foreshore lighting during turtle season will be discussed.”

Cr Trevor said Dr Witherington will engage with the community at a public meeting and also visit Reef Guardian schools and meet with Bargara Chamber members and the Bargara Progress Association.

"We all know of the value of the turtles to the Bundaberg region, both in an economic and environmental sense, and it is incumbent on everyone to take whatever practical steps we can as individuals to assist in their survival.

"Turtle lighting is a very complex issue involving multiple organisations.

"Dr Witherington will have a busy schedule during his visit, which will last from November 10 to November 16.”

Sea Turtle Alliance president Gary Brandon welcomed the visit.

"Mon Repos is the principal nesting beach for the endangered south-west Pacific loggerhead turtles, whose survival is seriously threatened by the ever increasing light pollution along our coastline.

"STA is very keen to hear the results of Dr Witherington's research and to share our common advocacy for turtles.”

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