Beach Monitoring Activities
The group formed officially in 1992 from a meeting held between a loosely scattered association of like-minded people who had been observing turtle nesting activities on local beaches for some time. These people were individually passing on information to the Queensland Turtle Research Program through a volunteer coordinator. At the end of the meeting in 1992 the group became known as the Mackay Turtle Watch Association to be followed by Incorporation.
After 1992 members attended and received training by volunteering their time at the Mon Repos turtle research centre working under the direction of Dr Col Limpus, who was, and still is, the head of the Queensland Turtle Research Program. Later the group would hold annual training sessions for members in Mackay under the direction of variously, Dr Jeff Miller, Ian Bell and Dr Col Limpus. The group operates under a Scientific Purposes Permit issued by the Queensland Environmental Agency and in accordance with directions by the agency.
What is involved in monitoring and what are monitoring activities?
Monitoring nesting and hatchling activity is not for the faint hearted. Many long, (all hours) windy, rainy, mosquito ridden evenings have been spent by members on beaches in the Mackay area and still rolling up for their day jobs. On the other hand though, some nights can turn to magical eventful evenings.
The Mackay district can have between 30 and 100 nesting female flatback turtles annually each laying approx. three times in a season lasting for approx. three months. That figure then has to be distributed over 30 or so beaches, so you can see there are a lot of nights spent walking and dreaming for little result other than exercise.
The egg chambers were excavated after the hatchlings emerged and counts of the number of eggs successfully hatched or otherwise were recorded to ascertain success rate of the nests.
In the early seasons monitors would measure nesting turtles, weigh and measure turtle eggs and hatchlings as well as recording sand temperatures.
Many long, (all hours) windy, rainy, mosquito ridden evenings have been spent by members on beaches in the Mackay area and still rolling up for their day jobs.
Monitoring activities today still consist of measurement and tagging of the adult turtle, the excavation of the nests after emergence has been completed and nest and sand temperatures recorded. ( Data to Queensland Turtle Research Brisbane).
The group has since stopped weighing and measuring eggs and hatchlings as enough data has been collected for the present time
This was done to create a database of mean weights and measurements for comparisons with other nesting areas and as a base line for possible changes in our area.