Longest studied turtle returns

MON Repos has received a special visit, with the world’s longest studied loggerhead turtle arriving to lay a clutch of eggs.

Dr Col Limpus, the Department of Environment and Resource Management’s chief scientist, said the visit marked her 10th recorded nesting season since she was tagged 33 years ago.

“The team was excited to see loggerhead X8221 return to breed at Mon Repos, after having been originally tagged at that beach in November, 1977 and visiting numerous times since,” he said.

“She is now the longest studied loggerhead turtle in the world, having been recorded across 33 years of breeding history.”

The scientist said the loggerhead was a frequent visitor to our shores.

“She has been very faithful to Mon Repos, with 51 of her 53 recorded trips ashore having been at that beach,” Dr Limpus said.

“Her other trips ashore were once at Nielson Park about 2km south, and once at Burnett Heads about 5km north of Mon Repos.”

Dr Limpus expected to see the loggerhead, which is estimated to be aged about 63, three more times this season.

“She typically lays four clutches of eggs in a season so we expect to see her again this summer,” he said.

The scientist said the loggerhead was lucky to have survived through the 1980s, when the population took a turn for the worse.

“X8221 lived through the difficult period of the late 1970s and 1980s, which saw the eastern Australian loggerhead population crash to its current low nesting numbers,” Dr Limpus said.

“She was lucky to survive capture in a prawn trawl off Burnett Heads in December, 1983, at a time when many of her fellow nesting turtles accidentally drowned in the nets.”

The turtle season has been thriving, with plenty of turtles arriving on Bundaberg beaches to lay eggs.

Thursday evening set a record for the season, with 18 turtles coming to nest at Mon Repos.

Mon Repos Conservation Park ranger in charge Cathy Gatley said the high number was positive.

“This is a very good start to the season,” she said. With the peak of the season approaching, turtle numbers are set to increase further.

Turtle Season

Ranger-guided tours operate seven nights a week from November to late March.

For bookings, telephone 4153 8888 or go online at www.bookbundabergregion.com.au.

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