Sea turtles hatching early

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Endangered turtles have been hatching early in heatwave conditions at south-east Queensland’s Mon Repos rookery near Bundaberg, a marine researcher said today.

Dr Col Limpus, team leader of the marine and freshwater ecology unit for the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said temperatures in the mid to high 30s have prompted about five clutches of loggerhead turtles to dig their way to the surface of the warm sand a week early.

“We’ve got a warmer summer than we normally get and we got our first hatchlings a week early this year, around about Christmas time,” Dr Limpus said.

But the baby turtles were not at risk of dying in the heat once they hatched.

“It would have to get pretty hot to create that problem,” he said.

The loggerheads have been nesting at Mon Repos since November and their eggs take about eight weeks to hatch.

Ranger-guided tours can be booked to view the turtles until March, but numbers were limited to about 300 each night, Dr Limpus said.