Wild Mob volunteers watched these flatback turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests during this year's turtle nesting season.
Wild Mob volunteers watched these flatback turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests during this year's turtle nesting season. CONTRIBUTED

Turtle season a success despite fewer nests

ACROSS the region, the final turtle hatchlings are emerging from their nests and sprinting towards the ocean for their first swim.

Despite fewer nests being found this year environmental groups are still declaring this summer a successful turtle nesting season.

The joint operation between Mackay District Turtle Watch, Wild Mob and Reef Catchments has found signs of a healthy turtle population.

MDTW spokeswoman Fay Griffin said the lower number of nests was part of a natural fluctuation in turtle nesting patterns. The decrease in turtles numbers was not unique to Mackay, Wild Mob marine operations manager Steve Fisher said, with fewer nests found across Queensland coasts this summer.

With two Tropical Cyclones crossing the coast, Mr Fisher said it had been a "challenging” year to conduct the survey. The strong winds and rain destroyed many signs of turtle nesting. However, he said cyclones Penny and Owen were a "blessing” to turtle populations, as cooler waters provided better nesting conditions and reduced the extent of coral bleaching.

"The cyclones coming over dropped the sea temperature and kept the ambient temperature lower,” he said.

Ms Griffin said turtles emerging from their nests this week would travel the ocean for 30 years before returning to nest exactly where they hatched.