The coastal waters of Queensland are important breeding and feeding habitat for marine turtles. Six of the world’s seven marine turtle species are found in Queensland, all of which are found in the waters of the Fraser Coast. Leatherback turtles are seasonal visitors, arriving in the waters of south-eastern Queensland in the late winter months. The other species (green, loggerhead, hawksbill, flatbackand olive ridley) have resident feeding and breeding populations in Queensland.
These turtles are long-lived and take 30 to 50 years to reach breeding age. They have complicated life histories and show high levels of fidelity to both breeding and feeding areas. Several factors make the conservation of marine turtles all important, such as the time between breeding seasons being possibly only once in up to eight years; the low chance of survival of the hatchlings; human interference and natural attrition.
Marine turtles are evident in the Fraser Coast and nearby regions such as Lady Elliot Island, the Great Sandy Strait and Hervey Bay.
It is important to follow recommended behaviour around nesting turtles and hatchlings. If you do this, you will enjoy a memorable experience while respecting these animals in their natural habitat. For more information visit the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection website: http://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/
Another Turtle species found on the Fraser Coast Region include the Mary River Turtle (Elusor macrurus), a freshwater turtle. It is considered to be an endangered species. The shell of the adult Mary River turtle is massive, smooth, streamlined, dull and unpatterned with a carapace (upper shell) length reaching 400 mm
The Mary River turtle is a cloacal ventilator (meaning it takes in oxygen through its bottom – a ‘bum breather’) and historically these types of freshwater turtle do not do well in large standing water bodies. Cloacal ventilation allows the species to stay under water for days at a time when the water is flowing and well oxygenated. This species likes to bask in sunny locations. Mature males are aggressive towards each other and live separately in the wild. Nesting occurs in late October and again about one month later.
Freshwater Turtle have two basic body forms, the short-necked turtles (like Elusor macrurus, Emydura spp., Rheodytes leukops and Wollumbinia spp.) and the long-necked turtles (like Chelodina spp. and Macrochelodina spp.), which have extremely long, snake-like necks. Unlike the sea turtles and many foreign freshwater turtles, the Australian cheluids fold their necks side-ways under the protective edge of the shell (Pleurodirous).