Welcome to Bundy, turtles
BELLS were ringing all over town yesterday to welcome Bundaberg's favourite annual visitors, the marine turtles which come to nest at Mon Repos.
According to Mon Repos ranger-in-charge Cathy Gatley, the first turtle was spotted on shore last week. "We had our first turtle come ashore on Saturday night. She was a flatback turtle and nested on our northern section of the beach and she would have laid anywhere between 50 and 60 eggs in that clutch," she said.
"She should be back in another two weeks to lay her next clutch of eggs."
In accordance with local tradition, Bundaberg's Anglican Christ Church rang its bells in welcome, with Junior Turtle Ranger students from St Luke's Anglican School assisting Father Iain Furby in the ceremony at 10.30am yesterday.
"The tradition is something that we pinched from the Scottish. They used to ring the bells when the fishing boats were coming back in and we thought that would work really well with the turtles," Ms Gatley said.
"It is a nice way to get the word out that the turtles are here and the community seems to really embrace it."
Father Furby said Junior Turtle Rangers in Prep R at St Luke's Anglican School loved learning about the turtles and were working together to teach others about cutting the glow to help keep beaches dark for turtles.
"Being able to have some students go to the Christ Church to ring the bells is a nice reward for all their hard work," he said.
St Luke's Anglican School Year 6 student Sam Fenwick-Blower said he was proud to be part of the bell-ringing tradition and had been learning a lot about the human impact on turtles.
"We know that turtles are getting extinct because people are littering and the plastics are being broken down into smaller peices," he said.
The bells also rang out at St Peter's at Bargara, St John the Divine at Burnett Heads, and St Andrew's and St John's in Bundaberg.
They were joined by a number of schools who welcomed the return of the turtles by dusting off their school bells.