If you get on or near the water here in far north Queensland, you’ve got a good chance of seeing a turtle. You may have seen pictures, you may have seen them on the TV, but there is nothing like seeing a turtle in the flesh. They are lovely creatures, graceful – and their presence is a sign of a healthy maritime environment. We are home to six of the seven known species of marine turtle. And that’s a wonderful thing – but there are threats to turtle populations. Feral animals dig up and eat their eggs, sharks and crocodiles prey on turtles, and they’re a food source for humans. Turtles get injured by boats or caught in fishing nets. One of the biggest threats to turtles is the presence of plastic bags in the water – turtles eat them, thinking they might be jellyfish. The bag gets stuck in the turtle, it loses its ability to sink down and seek food, and slowly starves to death. If you see a plastic bag at sea or on a beach, pick it up and dispose of it somewhere safe.
Turtles evolved during the Triassic period, about 200 million years ago. ABC Far North wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen has been researching turtles for a book he’s writing about the creatures of the Great Barrier Reef. LISTEN Click on the arrow to hear Martin talk about the types of turtles you’ll see in FNQ.
Turtle photos taken at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island http://www.saveourseaturtles.com.au/about-ctrc.html
And more about Fitzroy Island at http://www.fitzroyisland.com/about-us