Turtle 101: Southern Great Barrier Reef Turtles - Bundaberg Region
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Turtle 101: Meet the turtles of the Reef

Guest Blogger Bio Natalie Lobartolo

Marine turtles and their ancestors have been around since before the dinosaurs – that’s almost 100 million years! They survived asteroids that wiped out the dinosaurs, the evolution of mammals and the ice ages. Whether you find them hiding under ledges, camouflaged against corals, floating along the reef flat or munching on a jellyfish, the Southern Great Barrier Reef is one of the best destinations for some unforgettable encounters with these ancient creatures.

Lower tourist numbers and a strong educational and environmental focus amongst Southern Great Barrier Reef operators means the turtles are respected and free to roam around their natural home undisturbed. They are not afraid to come up close and say hello, so it’s the perfect place to get that dream turtle selfie!

Did you know there are seven species of sea turtles in the world and six of them call the Great Barrier Reef home? A diverse reef is a healthy reef, and that means lots of food and habitat. Keep an eye out for the Critically Endangered Hawksbill turtle munching on a sponge, dinosaur-like loggerheads hunting for crustaceans or Green Turtles munching on a bunch of algae.


A visit to the reef is not complete without witnessing the turtle day spas or “cleaning stations”. Over time, algae and parasites can build up on the turtles’ shells. A bit like we might visit a day spa for a pedicure and facial, marine turtles visit “cleaning stations” to have the grime removed and to stay clean and healthy.


Nowhere else on the reef – and maybe even in the world - can you experience so many aspects of the turtle life cycle in its pure and natural state, in such close proximity, and with a strong environmental and education focus from experts in their field. Whether you are lucky enough to see them nesting, hatching, feeding or cruising around the reef, Bundaberg is the place to visit to discover turtles in their natural, undisturbed environment. It’s a unique opportunity to witness nature’s wonders at their best.

From August to October, you’ll find the big boys (mature males) hanging around the shore, reefs, and islands hoping to find a lady – It’s mating season! Lady turtles will travel hundreds of kilometres between their feeding, breeding and nesting sites and can often be observed mating in the safety of the sheltered lagoons and reefs.

Venturing into summer (October to January), watch quietly as female loggerheads, greens and flatbacks drag their enormous egg-laden bellies up the beach to nest in the safety of the dunes. Six to eight weeks later (January to April), hatchlings begin to emerge and scurry down the beach before venturing out into the big old blue and jumping into what Crush from Finding Nemo calls the “EAC dude”: The East Australian Current. No bigger than the palm of a small child’s hand, only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will survive the endless perils of the ocean to make it to adulthood.


Your Master Reef Guide Top Tip!

For the best turtle experience possible, remember to move like a turtle: slow, calm and graceful! The more respect you have for them in their natural environment, the more they will feel comfortable to get up close and give you an experience to remember for a lifetime! Your guides from Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Lady Musgrave Experience and Mon Repos Turtle Rookery, work alongside these creatures every day, so be sure to stay close, ask lots of questions and listen closely to their tips!

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Friday, 19 July 2024

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