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Critically Endangered: next stop, Extinction.

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

This article by Wildlife Team Lead Darren Jew is in response to a recent report ABC Brisbane published about the threats to Bribie Island’s upcoming turtle nesting season. The original report created a level of disquiet within the local community, due mostly to its focus on only one of the numerous threats turtles face directly on Bribie Island: that of uncontrolled numbers of 4WDs on the island’s nesting beach.

BIEPA would like to use this opportunity to spell-out the organisation’s position on turtle protection.



Status of turtles

Despite 80% of their nesting beaches being in “protected areas”, the South Pacific sub-population of loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) is declining at a rate that sees it listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Redlist.

Every single loggerhead turtle hatchling born on Bribie Island is therefore critically important to the survival of their population.

Threats to turtles

All marine turtles living in the waters adjacent Bribie Island face threats: natural predation by sharks, fatal trauma from boat strike; drowning after being entangled in crab pots and lines; plastic ingestion; diseases caused by poor water quality; degradation of seagrass feeding habitat caused by poor coastal planning and development; and lastly: changes in range, breeding habits and cycles as oceans and sands warm.

In addition to these year-round marine threats, here’s another list: specific threats to the turtles that nest on Bribie Island’s eastern and southern beach:

  • Females are deterred from coming ashore to lay their eggs by bright lights on beaches.

  • Nesting attempts are aborted after disturbance by humans and dogs (turnarounds).

  • Females face entrapment in beach structures.

  • Vehicular traffic impacts the natural cycle of the nesting dunes.

  • Nests are sometimes inundated during severe storms.

  • Vehicle tracks cross hatchling runways, exposing hatchlings to longer treks and hence greater risk of exposure and predation.

  • Feral pigs and feral foxes can dig up nests and predate on the eggs.

  • Hatchlings are disoriented by artificial light glow.

  • Native goannas burrow into nests to predate on eggs.

  • Native seabirds and shorebirds predate on hatchlings between nest and ocean.

These known threats to turtles nesting on Bribie Island obviously extend beyond tyre tracks on beaches — and most are human-preventable. With their population in such a perilous state, each threat (including natural ones) needs to be assessed and then appropriately mitigated.

Extinction is forever

The localised extinction of Bribie Island’s emus, koalas and giant ground orchids — and the probable loss of the water mouse and long-nosed potoroo — are inexcusable tragedies that authorities have presided over. At a time when dugong face up-listing from Vulnerable to Endangered, Vulnerable inshore Australia humpback dolphin populations sharply decline, and the loggerhead population is on the brink, I would simply ask this question of anyone who believes nesting turtles do not warrant protection from threats:

Do you want to be known as one of the Bribie Islanders who watched over the next local extinction?

Awareness builds support

There is an undeniable tension between unfettered beach driving and the success of the turtle nesting season. Both a vacuum of turtle awareness, and a lack of protection measures exist. In the absence of management from authorities, Bribie Island’s turtles rely on committed volunteer Turtle Trackers to be on the beach every morning from November to April; to be their voice: and, during nesting season, to do whatever they can to ensure the maximum number of hatchlings make it safely from nest to ocean. BIEPA supports that work.

BIEPA believes awareness of Bribie Island’s nesting turtles, community acknowledgment of their significance and the growing Tread Lightly ethos is the foundation upon which protection can be built. In that spirit we look forward to celebrating the return of the turtles at the BIEPA Giant Turtle Event @ Woorim in the afternoon on Sunday November 12.

BIEPA will always put nature first.


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10 Comments


Unknown member
Oct 23, 2023

Thank you Darren for an excellent article that really does spell out all aspects of the very real problems these wonderful creatures face. It would be terrific if your article could appear in all the local news outlets etc.

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Unknown member
Oct 23, 2023

The main problem re possible Extinction of the Loggerhead turtle is definitely the presence of the 4 WD vehicles.We can easily say that 99 % of the 4 WD vehicles are non Bribie Residents. Let’s face the facts: Beaches are not highways but it seems that our Queensland Government just is not interested to even study and/or listen to the residents of Bribie Island and 25000 non Bribie residents.I strongly advocate that not once but every Sunday we will have to protest and again and again to write letters/emails to the Minister of Environment.How much money that is now being collected by the QLD Government from Beach Driving Permits is being spend on Environmental issues/ improvements???

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Unknown member
Oct 23, 2023
Replying to

Jan, would you like to add your comment to my posts on FB. I made a public one as well as on Woorim Locals and Bribie Island Community.

Cheers, Zdena

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Unknown member
Oct 23, 2023

This is a way better approach!!! Let's look at the real data, talk to professionals in this field and see what solutions other parts of the world are using. It's about time BIEPA take a different approach compared what has been done in recent years , work with all aspects of the community for manageable outcomes that work 🤙🏼

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Unknown member
Nov 02, 2023
Replying to

I think looking to the future is really important, as we can only protect Bribie‘s rookery with a collaborative approach. It’s definitely in the turtle‘s best interest to get strategies in place that mitigate all the threats.

Dept of Env and Science hold all the available data on turtles, and they also hold the “keys to the gate“ when it comes to managing the beach.

Each year the data collection effort increases, which will lead to better-informed management decisions. It is a bit of a race however, given the critical state of the loggerhead population.

In the immediate short term, educating beach users on the presence of turtles and the significance of the season is really important,…


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Unknown member
Oct 23, 2023

Excellent article Darren, thank you!

I think we would find most people reading it here woud answer NO to your question. I believe it could be beneficial to our cause to publish it more widely so as to reach the general population which we strive to educate.

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Unknown member
Oct 23, 2023
Replying to

Share the story as widely as you can!

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