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Tracking Our Enigmatic Ancient Mariners

Updated: Feb 27

Between November and April, they come and go in the dark of night on our South East Queensland beaches. Quietly and without fuss, they lay their precious clutches of eggs. After a couple of months incubating in the dunes, baby hatchlings silently emerge from their nests to scurry across a dark sandy beach towards the glow of the ocean and their destiny in a new marine home.

Hatchlings heading for the sea (photo: Diane Oxenford)
A clutch of Bribie's Loggerhead hatchlings heads for the sea (photo: Diane Oxenford)

Very few people encounter the magical nocturnal adventures into our terrestrial world by these unassuming ancient mariners. South East Queensland’s loggerhead turtles are included in the South Pacific subpopulation which is listed on the IUCN Redlist as Critically Endangered, with their population on the decrease. To ensure their survival as a species, scientists and volunteer citizen scientists are collaborating to record:

  • where and when these loggerheads travel during the breeding season;

  • where they choose to lay their eggs and why; and

  • where they typically forage and live in the marine environment in the long term.

Ultimately, this will help protect them and their marine and terrestrial habitat to prevent extinction. Many Bribie Islanders are astonished when they discover we have turtles nesting and hatching in our eastern dunes and that BIEPA and the Bribie Island Turtle Trackers have been contributing to this long-term research for almost two decades.

During the 2022/2023 nesting season Sunshine Coast Council is tracking two female Loggerhead turtles, Bullumby (133768) and First Lady (236574), which have just completed their arduous breeding season.

(25/2/2023) While Bullumby is currently on a heading that may take her home to somewhere in the Coral Sea, to the Solomon Islands or elsewhere further afield, so far First Lady is proving more of a home-body, seeming to take up residence on a reef off the southern tip off Moreton Island. Interesting for Bribie Islanders, after leaving the beach with her new satellite tag onboard, you can see by the tracking data that First Lady spent her inter-nest period developing her next clutch of eggs while milling around just off Bribie Island's unique ICOLLs (Intermittently Closed and Open Lagoons) before laying her next clutch. We invite you to learn more about by join their ocean tour, as they return to their preferred foraging areas and marine homes.