Yamba turns out for turtles' dash

AN excited group of around 20 Yamba locals and visitors turned out to watch three turtles released into the wild from Pippi Beach on Tuesday.

One turtle was a juvenile green turtle that had been found washed ashore at Yamba's Whiting Beach in late January.

The turtle had been found entangled with fishing line and hooks which had made its flipper almost useless.

It would not have survived if it had not been taken for rehabilitation at the Australian Seabird Rescue facility in Ballina.

The other two turtles were the last survivors from a nest where at least 47 hatchlings emerged from their sand nest to make their way to the water earlier this month.

Yamba residents Tania Creber and Gab Hawke who discovered the nest the morning it was laid in January had been monitoring it every day since, rain, hail or shine.

Australian Seabird Rescue (ASR), National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and other community members also began monitoring including placing a temperature probe to monitor sand temperature, critical for nesting success.

NPWS ranger Louise Feltus said green turtles generally nested further north in Queensland and this was believed to be the fifth record of a green turtle nest this far south.

“We have been fortunate with this nest, as we knew when the nest was laid and therefore expected to hatch,” Ms Feltus said. “Having locals keeping an eye to report this hatching event, has been fantastic.

“Australian Seabird Rescue has done a fabulous job working with the local community about turtle nests and the best way to help to protect these animals.

“Green Turtles usually lay about 150 eggs per nest and the hatchlings usually emerge when there is a full moon, and in the middle of the night.

“However on average, out of every 1000 turtles that hatch, one might survive to adulthood.”

Residents along the Far North Coast began monitoring their beaches for nesting sea turtle tracks at the beginning of summer, as part of Australian Seabird Rescue's 'Make Turtles Count' project.

General manager Rochelle Ferris was overwhelmed by the public interest.

“Many locals weren't aware that sea turtles nest in our region, but once the tracks became evident they really took ownership to protect this crucial habitat. Sea turtles species are in decline, they need all the help they can get.”

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