Mon Repos: Concerns redevelopment may scare turtles off
THE $10 million redevelopment of the Mon Repos Turtle Centre has been hailed as an economic boon for Bundaberg - but one local conservationist fears it could scare away the animals it aims to celebrate.
Pam Soper, who has fought to protect the loggerhead turtle for the last 42 years in her role with Bundaberg Wildlife and Wildlife Queensland, said not enough thought had been given to the impact of more visitors to Mon Repos.
"If it's open all year round there will be more impact on the beach,” she said.
"It's not used that much at the moment - people are walking and swimming there in fairly low numbers.
"If you're presenting a cafe open all day you'll get more people on the beach, and that will change the profile of the beach and the sand dunes.
"It's a gradual process but, like all animals, turtles are very sensitive creatures.
"If they find where they come to nest is being heavily impacted by people, over time it will be the same as what has happened down at Bargara and Kellys Beach - they still come, but the numbers have dropped off.”
During nesting seasons, wildlife volunteers work through the night to move eggs up into the sand dunes when turtles lay them too close to the ocean.
Ms Soper suggested the new centre be located away from the beach, such as on government-owned land on the corner of Bargara and Potters Rds.
Bundaberg MP Leanne Donaldson's office responded to Ms Soper's concerns.
"The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection have been conducting studies on turtles for decades and this is being used to make sure the development and activities associated do not impact on turtles,” a spokeswoman said.
She said planning was underway for the redevelopment in consultation with Bundaberg Regional Council, Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism and government departments as well as rangers and volunteers.
The spokeswoman said legislation was in place to control access to the beach during the laying and hatching season.
"In the evenings during turtle season, visitors may only access the beach when escorted by an EHP officer or QPWS ranger,” she said.
"Visitor numbers to the beach are limited to sustainable levels.
"Out of season, access to the beach is unrestricted. However beach conditions continue to be monitored by QPWS rangers.”