Turtle Watching Guidelines

Heron Island hosts a large nesting population of Green (Chelonia mydas) and Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles from October to March each year. The number of females nesting each season can vary greatly.

Heron Island is a unique setting to view sea turtles; as guests to the island you are welcome to walk the beaches at night to view the nesting process at your leisure. However, we do ask that you act responsibly around the turtles as they are endangered species and are very vulnerable to being disturbed.

Please follow these guidelines to minimise disturbance to them. Turtles are very sensitive to light and movement. For further information please come join us at one of our daily Turtle Hints’ presentations in the Wistari Room.

The optimal time to view turtles is at night, 2 hours each side of the high tide.

1. No lights on the beach.

Spend 5 minutes relaxing on the beach and your eyes will adjust to the darkness surprisingly well.

2. No flash photography.

3. Remain still and low.

Movement can disturb the turtles just as much as light. When you spot a turtle please stop, sit down and remain still to determine whether she is moving up or down the beach.

4. Pass or view her from behind.

Always give the turtle a wide berth and always walk behind her. Do not get within her peripheral vision, especially when nesting.

5. Remain 10m away from the turtle

To minimise the risk of disturbing a nesting turtle please stay at least 10m away, and behind the line of sight of the turtle.

 

Turtle Hatchling Season

Turtle hatchlings will emerge from the sand from January until May. It is important that they are allowed to make their own way to the water without assistance or hindrance. The hatchlings will be imprinting on the environment so they know to return to these beaches as mature adults. It is also important that the hatchlings have the opportunity to warm up their flippers in preparation for their big ocean journey.

Artificial lights from torches or rooms will disorientate the hatchlings. Please assist by

· turning off unnecessary lights on balconies

· closing curtains at night

· do not use torches or flash photography

Under no circumstances are the hatchlings to be handled and never dig the hatchlings out of their nest.

The best chance of seeing the hatchlings making their way to the ocean is to take a walk along the beach, at the high tide mark, around sunset or sunrise. Please do not walk through the high dunes and vegetation line as you may accidentally trample nests and hatchlings that are soon to surface.

Please attend a Turtle Hints Presentation or speak to a Naturalist Guide for more information.