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Go Slow For Those Below!

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

Our Pumicestone Passage is becoming increasingly more dangerous and unwelcoming for our finned and flippered friends, writes Diane Oxenford.

On a recent balmy Sunday afternoon, the BIEPA-supported Bribie Island Turtle Trackers (BITTs) were contacted by Bribie’s Volunteer Marine Rescue. A boatie was towing in a distressed turtle he’d encountered in Pumicestone Passage. A boat propellor had made four severe cuts into the turtle’s carapace, one of which made a deep and fatal incision into the turtle’s lungs.

Not only was the turtle in distress, but so were the concerned people gathering on this popular beach beside the main boat ramp at Bellara.

Australia Zoo’s Wildlife Rescue team were busy on another rescue, so a team from Wildlife Rescue Queensland was dispatched from Wamuran to transport the turtle to Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Sadly, the life of this otherwise healthy and magnificent male Green turtle ended en-route Australia Zoo.

The magnificent adult male green turtle killed by a boat strike in Pumicestone Passage on 5 March 2023. (Photo by Diane Oxenford from official report to DES)

The day before, another large juvenile Green turtle washed up dead in the mangroves at Williams Creek near the Seaside Museum. It had six lethal propellor cuts in its carapace.

The juvenile green turtle found dead near the Seaside Museum on 4/3/2023 and recorded and reported by BITTs Turtle Responder the following day. (Photo by Diane Oxenford from official report to DES)

Green turtles are listed on the ICUN Red List status as an Endangered (population trend decreasing). Similarly, the South Pacific Loggerheads are listed as Critically Endangered (population trend decreasing).

Authorities acknowledge boat/propellor strikes are increasing in Moreton Bay Marine Park. The Bay is critical habitat for threatened species, all of which are owed protection under both State and National laws, and International/Intergovernmental Treaties – including the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species. This rise in incidents across the Marine Park is reflected in Pumicestone Passage, and can be seen by looking at the rising trend in turtle strandings that BITTs alone have responded to over recent years. It should be noted that additional turtle strandings are responded to by QPWS, MBRC but these are not reflected in our graph, and of course unknown numbers of strandings go unreported.

Our marine life is clearly not receiving the protections promised by government authorities. Turtles are also under pressure from other human activities, including pollution and poor water quality, entanglement in both recreational fishing gear and in outdated shark protection equipment.

The presence of aggressive high-speed motorised recreation in our vulnerable waterways does not align with more environmentally sustainable and healthier passive recreational activities such as: kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding, swimming – and the mounting toll of avoidable wildlife deaths on and around Bribie is at odds with the notion of the Island as a “Sanctuary”. Diane Oxenford BIEPA calls for an urgent and comprehensive review of legislation and regulation that pertains to high-speed recreational activities. This includes speed limits, green zones, go slow zones, exclusion zones and the policing of the Moreton Bay Marine Park, Pumicestone Passage and adjacent waters, in an effort to ensure the safety of all species, including endangered sea-turtles, dugongs, dolphins and shorebirds. It is hoped such a review would see the return of safer, healthier, and more passive recreational activities in this internationally protected natural environment. YOU CAN ACT!

Help get action on speed limits in southern Pumicestone Passage by reporting inappropriate actions on the water. See how to report here. Report sick/injured/stranded turtles by contacting BITTs immediately. Bribie is fortunate to have on call one of Moreton Bay’s most experienced turtle responders, Diane Oxenford, who officially attends stranding events on behalf of QPWS and Council. Two other BIEPA members have recently stepped-up as responders-in-training, and are undertaking the required theory and practical training with authorities before attending their first incidents.

Chat about the impact of high-speed vessels and reducing speed limits within your extended social circles, especially with those who use high-speed vessels, to help make the broader community aware of the problem, and the need for a review of waterways management around Bribie.

Advocate for wildlife-friendly recreation and sustainable eco-tourism on and around Bribie. Contribute your spare time and skills to BIEPA Wildlife Team Projects.

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Unknown member
Mar 24, 2023

Regretfully it is money that counts.Even our efforts to have the 4WD beach section -partly -closed during the Turtle Breeding season did not have the sympathy of our State Representative.!!!!!Not withstanding 25 000 signatures supporting the request !!!


Unknown member
Mar 24, 2023

Comment was written by Jan van Arnhem

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