Meet the real stars of WSFB

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Shining a spotlight on The Hatchery’s Loggerhead Turtles

The Hatchery is one of World Science Festival Brisbane’s most iconic events. Join Queensland Museum’s Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians and #WSFB participant, Patrick Couper, as he sheds some light on what happens after the festival every year.

The Hatchery explained

The Turtle Hatchery is an important conservation initiative that has released almost 500 loggerhead turtles since it started. It has been designed in collaboration with internationally renowned herpetologist Colin Limpus and Queensland Museum Senior Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians, Patrick Couper.

Where do the turtles come from?

The Loggerhead Turtle eggs used in The Hatchery were collected from Mon Repos Beach on the Bundaberg coast. Approximately 180,000 eggs were laid on this coast during the 2021-22 nesting season.

…and where will they go after WSFB? 

Our hatchlings will be taken to SEA LIFE (Sunshine Coast Aquarium) where they will be cared for until they are released, 20 kilometres off the coast into the Eastern Australian Current. The hatchlings will ride this current, taking them past the northern tip of New Zealand and on to the coasts of Chile and Peru. They will not return to Queensland waters for 16 years and will not breed for a further 13 years.

It’s not all a-ok for these little guys though… Marine turtles are threatened on many fronts. Some of these threats include:

  1. Fishing
  2. Coastal development and habitat disturbance
  3. Feral predators
  4. Pollution
  5. Boat strike
  6. Climate change.

Cue The Hatchery. The turtle population HUGELY benefits from The Hatchery project in a number of ways:

  1. Raise awareness of the threatening processes impacting the survival of this species.
  2. Highlight ways that individuals can assist in the preservation of turtle habitats in South East Queensland.
  3. Highlight Mon Repos as a ‘must see’ tourist destination.

But wait, isn’t it harmful to the hatchlings to be displayed at WSFB?

It’s important to note the turtles hatching at Queensland Museum are in no way compromised during World Science Festival Brisbane. The eggs were collected from Mon Repos, on the Bundaberg coast, and the hatchlings will be released into the Eastern Australian Current. This is where this age class of Loggerhead Turtles begin the open ocean phase of their life history. The Hatchery activities are within a region where the natural hatchling dispersal for this species occurs. If these turtles survive to maturity, they will be able to find their way back to suitable nesting beaches on the Queensland coast.

How can I help?

We’re glad you asked! There are many ways you can assist in the preservation of turtle habitats:

  1. Reduce your energy use.
  2. Keep the environment clean by disposing of your waste thoughtfully and participating in organised clean-up events.
  3. Choose reusable bags, water bottles, straws and keep cups.
  4. Repair before buying new.
  5. Choose products with minimal packaging.
  6. Recycle and buy recycled products.
  7. Compost appropriate kitchen and garden waste and non-recyclable paper and cardboard.
  8. Join a local turtle-monitoring group.
  9. Report sightings of all sick, injured or dead marine turtles to the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) at any time.

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