NSW celebrates bumper season for sea turtle hatchings

Six tiny loggerhead turtle hatchlings have now made their way into the 'big blue', capping off a bumper 2023-24 sea turtle nesting season which saw an incredible 877 sea turtles hatch successfully on NSW beaches.

A small turtle hatchling being lifted out of a box by a gloved hand

The 6 loggerhead turtle hatchlings were the survivors of nest laid very late in the season at Diamond Beach, near Forster. After weeks of careful monitoring, incubation and care from experts at NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), NSW TurtleWatch and Taronga, these hatchlings were strong enough to be released.

The nest at Diamond Beach was one of 12 successful nests recorded on the state's beaches this season, stretching from New Brighton Beach in the Byron Shire to Diamond Beach on the Mid Coast, up from the 5 nesting activities that were seen the previous season.

Together, these nests produced 196 green turtle hatchlings and 681 loggerhead turtle hatchlings. Both are currently listed as threatened species in New South Wales.

NPWS staff and NSW TurtleWatch volunteers invested over 800 hours in monitoring and protecting nests this season.

Many sea turtle species are in decline as a result of human impacts. On the shore, turtle nests are impacted by predators, coastal development, artificial light pollution, climactic impacts from storm surges, erosion and sea inundation. Off-shore threats include marine debris, boat strike, climate change and by-catch.

NPWS last week convened the inaugural 2024 NSW Turtle Summit at the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour. The summit brought together leading experts and stakeholders in marine turtle conservation to address critical research gaps and bolster conservation efforts across NSW and Queensland.

Quote attributable to Minister for Climate Change and the Environment Penny Sharpe:

'This season's record number of hatchlings is truly wonderful news for sea turtle conservation.

'That 877 hatchlings have made their way to the ocean is a testament to our collective efforts to protect these magnificent creatures.

'The contribution of our TurtleWatch volunteers and NPWS staff has been instrumental in this success.

'I also want to extend my heartfelt thanks to our coastal communities who have been vigilant in reporting sightings. You've made a significant difference in the survival of these hatchlings.'

 

Quote attributable to NSW NPWS Marine Wildlife Team Leader Duane March:

'With the 2023–24 nesting season at an end, the summit was an opportunity for us to bring together key stakeholders and experts to address the urgent challenges facing marine turtles.

'Each year, marine turtles wash up on our beaches or are presented to wildlife rescue organisations suffering from diseases or other health concerns that we don't fully understand.

'The insights we've gained will guide us in addressing critical gaps in our understanding of marine turtle biology and threats and will also help us to better support turtles when they are sick, injured or directly threatened and need our help.

'We hope the actions that came out of the summit will lead to many more successful marine turtle nesting seasons on NSW beaches in years to come.'