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Go Slow For Those Below!

Updated: 3 days ago

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.