As crowds gathered at World Science Festival Brisbane, baby loggerhead turtles took their first look at the world, slowly but steadily hatching out of the safety of their shells and welcomed enthusiastically by participants. The festival saw the hatching of 58 loggerhead turtles that were later released into the East Australian Current (EAC).
The precious hatchlings started their journey in January, where they were collected from nest at Mon Repos, near Bundaberg, as part of the world-renowned Queensland Turtle Conservation (QTC) project. They were meticulously incubated at exactly 29.9°C for their hatchings to be timed over the five days of the festival.
After wriggling out of their shells, the hatchlings spent serveral days in an incubator before being transported to Sea Life Sunshine Coast for their release. “Usually at this stage of life, they would still be buried deep within the nesting chamber and unable to crawl to the surface until their bodies had fully straughtened,” says Queensland Museum reptile curator Patrick Couper.
“But during the festival, visitors had the unique chance to view this wonderful stage of life that is usually hidden from public view,” he comments. Due to the unpredictable weather cycles caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, the hatchlings were holding out at Sea Life Sunshine Coast, which turned out to give them the best chance of survival.
The Queensland Turtle Research Program, designed and led by Dr. Colin Limpus, who coordinates the project for the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), is in its second year at World Science Festival Brisbane, and will be celebrating it’s 50th anniversary in 2018.
“Through this project we have helped to raise awareness of the current conservation status of loggerhead turtles, as well as highlighting ways individuals can assist in the preservation of turtle habitats in South East Queensland,” says Professor Suzanne Miller, Queensland Museum Network CEO and Director.
“The project has been an enormous success and from the number of people lining up to witness the miracle of these loggerheads hatching, it’s without a doubt one of the most popular events on the World Science Festival Brisbane calendar.”