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Environment

Discover how we are protecting the Gold Coast's natural environment - our spectacular beaches, hinterland ranges, bushland and waterways - and how you can help.

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Marine Turtles

Marine turtles are reptiles (cold blooded vertebrate animals). Fossil records indicate that they have lived within the world’s oceans for over 100 million years, making them one of the few living links between the present and the time of the dinosaurs.

Description

Loggerhead Turtle

Loggerhead Turtle

Green turtles are found in tropical, subtropical and temperate oceans around the world. They usually live among coral, rocky reefs and seagrass meadows of coasts and islands. Loggerhead turtles are found in tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide. They live among coral and rocky reefs and seagrass meadows of coasts and islands as well as deeper soft-bottomed habitats.

Marine turtles are well adapted for life in the ocean. They have a streamlined body and strong flippers for propelling themselves through the water and for digging nesting chambers on the beach.

Adult green turtles weigh on average 150 kilograms. The carapace (shell) grows up to one metre long, and has four scales along each side. The carapace is olive-green in colour and can be variegated with brown, reddish-brown and black. The plastron (underside) is a whitish-cream colour.

Loggerhead turtles are named after their relatively large-sized head. The average weight of an adult Loggerhead Turtle is 100-150 kilograms. The carapace grows to approximately one metre long and has five scales along each side. It is dark reddish brown in colour with darker brown markings. The plastron is creamy-yellow.

Status

Loggerhead Turtle

Loggerhead Turtle

Marine turtles are also recognised internationally as species of conservation concern. The green turtle (Chelonia mydas) is ‘vulnerable’ in Australia, meaning that it may become endangered if threats to survival continue. The loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) is ‘endangered’ in Australia, meaning it may become extinct if the threats to survival continue.

Local status

Uncommon

Known locations on the Gold Coast

Turtle Hatchling

Live hatchling

Eastern Beach of South Stradbroke Island is a confirmed nesting location for these turtles. They have been recorded at other Gold Coast beaches.

Threats

Vehicles: Driving vehicles on the beach, particularly on the dunes can cause destroy nests and cause sand compaction, making it difficult for turtle hatchlings to emerge from their nests. Deep tyre tracks in the sand can create a trap for the hatchlings, making them easy targets for predators and exposing them to high temperatures and dehydration.

Predators: Turtle nests and hatchlings are naturally predated upon by lace monitors, crabs and birds. Additional predation by introduced animals such as foxes, cats and dogs further decrease their chance of survival.

Offshore threats: Boat strikes, entanglement in nets and fishing lines and consumption of litter are a significant threats for marine animals worldwide. A number of deceased turtles have washed up on the beach at South Stradbroke Island.

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