I was really sorry to hear on Saturday how hard the Tropical Cyclone Oswald had hit Bargara and Burnett Heads near Bundaberg: we spent last New Year at Burnett Heads and had an incredible experience watching turtles nesting at Mon Repos: the largest Loggerhead turtle rookery in the South Pacific. Flatback and Green turtles also lay their eggs there. Mon Repos is situated between Burnett Heads and Bargara. Thinking about those wonderful creatures struggling out to sea in such storms, I realised I never posted on this blog about that trip. January is right in the middle of the turtle breeding season (Nov-March), where female sea turtles will be coming onto the beach to lay their eggs at Mon Repos and also baby turtles will be starting to hatch and make their perilous journey to the sea, certainly even more perilous in this weather.
Last year we were really lucky and saw several female Loggerhead turtles come up the beach that night to lay their eggs. It was amazing to watch such an enormous creature so close, apparently oblivious to 30 people stood around in the darkness (torch use was restricted). She dug a hole in the sand and then began to lay 120 eggs, one after the other. After she had finished she buried the eggs then made her way back to the ocean. Some interesting facts about the turtles at Mon Repos:
- The eggs laid on the mainland produce mainly females and those laid on islands produce males - to do with the warmer temperature of the sand on the mainland.
- Only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to maturity.
- It is 30 years before the turtles will return, to the same beach, and start to breed. The longevity of the turtles is not yet known!