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Giant “turtle” was a sight to sea

Photos by Damian Caniglia, Stephen Finkel, and Darren Jew

For those lucky enough to venture down to Woorim Beach on Sunday December 4, you may have come across the sight of an unusual looking turtle. What made this turtle a little different, is it was entirely made up of members of the community. Organised by the Bribie Island Environmental Protection Association (BIEPA), the event was held in a bid to raise more awareness about turtle nesting season and how we as a community can help protect the mothers and their hatchlings.

More than 200 people came together on Woorim Beach in a joyful celebration of these maternal mariners, who return to the dunes of their birth to lay their clutches of 100 or so ping-pong ball sized eggs.

Wrangling the crowd was local artist Geoff Ginn who, with the help of BIEPA marshals, corralled the two hundred into a giant human-made turtle on the sands of low tide. Captured from above by hovering drones, after mingling for a while and laughing a lot, the human turtle then attempted a return to sea, with much frivolity and a modicum of success!

“I was pleased to make a simple but very useful giant turtle outline that brought together a joyous and thoughtful crowd to highlight this risky 100-metre journey turtles, both large and small, take across our beaches many times each year,” Geoff said.

“The whole community is recognising the unique value of this amazing place,” BIEPA president Richard Ogden said. “We must work together to look after our remaining wildlife and natural habitat.”

It is estimated that one in 10,000 South East Queensland loggerhead turtles survives to return to breed in the area it was born. If undisturbed, a mother turtle will slowly traverse the beach to the dunes where she will spend time ‘body pitting’ and clearing away debris. Then she will dig her nest chamber and lay an average of 127 eggs the size of ping-pong balls. She will fastidiously close and camouflage the nest then traverse the beach to her ocean home. Her time ashore will be about two hours. The nest will incubate and hatch in about eight weeks.

How you can help

The Bribie Island Turtle Trackers (BITT) have provided some recommendations to those who use the beach:

  • If you encounter a nesting turtle or hatchlings, first immediately phone the Bribie Island Turtle Trackers on 0438 111 163, who will respond as soon as possible. They will monitor and collect data for scientists. If the turtle leaves before a BITT arrives, take the GPS coordinates and mark the nest area with sticks if possible. Try not to walk on turtle tracks and the nesting site, these provide important information for BITT.

  • Give any nesting turtle a wide berth, staying behind her and out of her line of sight as nesting turtles are easily spooked. The BITT’s monitor the mother and her nest to ensure they remain safe and protected, relocating the eggs if threatened.

  • Avoid using artificial lights on the beach as they can disorient turtles affecting their ability to see the brighter horizon over the ocean which they use to find their way back out to sea after laying. Artificial lights also impact turtles looking to come into the beach and hatchlings making their way out to sea.

  • Remember to keep off the fragile dunes.

  • If choosing to drive on the beach, please avoid turtle nesting beaches at night as their nesting and hatching habits are mostly nocturnal. Also avoid driving at high tide on soft sand as there could be nests and it creates deep ruts that turtle hatchlings cannot negotiate to get to the ocean, making them vulnerable to predators and exhaustion.

For further information visit

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