Croc One Log

November 2005 - Flatbacks

Ranger Barry Lyon has had a major interest in the turtles of Crab Island since the 1980s.
Ranger Barry Lyon has had a major interest in the turtles of Crab Island since the 1980s.

During November, Croc One conducted research on the largest Flatback Turtle rookery in the world - Crab Island, south to Jackson River on Cape York’s west coast.  It is during this month that the west coast of the Cape comes alive with Flatback Turtles laying their eggs. Dusk is the most favoured time for the Flatbacks to make their way up the beach to dig their nests. This species breeds and nests only in Australia; they lay approximately 50 eggs per nest, the fewest of any marine turtle. The Flatbacks also have the smallest migratory range of any marine turtle species, though they do make long reproductive migrations of up to 1300 kilometres.

A beautiful female deposits her precious eggs   Ghost nets and trash from illegal fishing boats litter every metre of the beach
A beautiful female deposits her precious eggs   Ghost nets and trash from illegal fishing boats litter every metre of the beach. Boats litter 50% of the beach.
Shelley with a huge old female stranded by the outgoing tide  

Shelley with a huge old green turtle stranded by the outgoing tide

 

 

We witnessed a very high – alarmingly high – amount of pig predation on clutches between the Jackson and McDonald Rivers and absolutely no predation on the sensational Crab Island. Having Shelley (the greatest beachcomber on Earth) and her husband, Ranger Barry Lyon who worked extensively on Crab Island in the 1980s, was a huge bonus. They could sniff out a nesting Flatback girl from 250 metres and their knowledge on pig predation stems a lifetime as rangers in the Cape York Peninsula.
Bob found a very dead, dehydrated turtle which he claimed as his best friend.   Turtles are very important marine reptiles that need all the help they can get. Virtually every marine turtle species is endangered. The next step is extinction.
Bob found a very dead, dehydrated turtle which he inspected closely.   Turtles are very important marine reptiles that need all the help they can get. Virtually every marine turtle species is endangered. The next step is extinction.

Flatback Turtles and other marine life face a huge range of threats, including being caught as 'bycatch' in commercial fishing operations, getting tangled in discarded ('ghost') fishing nets and ingestion of marine debris. It is easy to reduce threats to marine turtles by making sure no nets, equipment or rubbish are lost overboard when fishing or boating. Being aware of turtles in the water, avoiding excessive boat speeds that may result in turtle injuries, and not driving on known nesting beaches. If you are on or near a nesting beach at night, check sources of light pollution and cover your lights where possible. Be careful not to disturb nesting turtles, especially as they are coming up the beach, as this may prevent them from laying eggs.