An innovative new research project on Magnetic Island is calling on community to help monitor the impacts of climate change on the coastal rookeries of nesting turtles.

Led by Envite Environment in collaboration with Magnetic Island Network for Turtles (MINT), the ‘Turtle Friendly Climate Resilient Coastlines’ project will study the correlation between vegetation and the success rate of sea turtle hatchlings, in particular the Green and Flatback turtles that nest on the island each year.

Envite Regional Manager, Natasha Rodwell said that the project aims to mitigate the impacts of climate change on turtle reproduction and coastal erosion. “Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), in collaboration with MINT have been collecting turtle nesting data for over 15 years. The research has highlighted the negative impacts on turtle nesting success due to a greater frequency of climatic extremes. Higher sand temperatures increase hatchling mortality rates which results in more female hatchlings being produced.

“Our project will use a science-based approach to develop a coastal revegetation management tool, to not only improve turtle nesting habitat but promote the natural resilience of the coastline and reduce erosion of our coastal dunes.” Said Natasha.

Community members will be invited to get involved by submitting photos taken at yet to be installed Coast Snap photo monitoring stations. These photos will document the changing shoreline over time and produce data that can be used for shoreline mapping and help scientists to forecast how coastlines may change in the coming decades.

The second stage of the project will involve on-ground revegetation works in partnership with Townsville City Council in areas such as Nelly Bay, West Point and Geoffrey Bay, helping reduce sediment loads impacting surrounding seagrass, mangrove and fringing reef communities.

Magnetic Island Network for Turtles (MINT) have been driving turtle conservation efforts in the area for many years and welcomed the renewed focus on habitat restoration.

“This Envite project builds on the work that MINT have been doing by increasing our understanding of sea turtle nesting habitat and interventions we can make as a community to improve survivorship for sea turtle hatchlings.” Said Jo Petersen, MINT Coordinator.

Envite’s Natasha Rodwell added, “We are grateful to have the support of the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and Great Barrier Reef Foundation who are generously funding this project. This is in addition to the on-ground support of organisations such as MINT, QPWS, Magnetic Island Community Development Association , Magnetic Island Nature Care Association, Arcadia Coast Care, Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare Inc. and the Port of Townsville.

“It is exciting to see so many brilliant minds and organisations coming together for one common goal: to build the resilience of our coastlines against climate related impacts while protecting the nesting grounds of these magnificent creatures, now and into the future.”

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said: “The Great Barrier Reef and its islands are home to six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles. As well as being remarkable creatures – they also play a vital role in maintaining the health of our precious oceans and reefs.

“However – like the Reef – they are under threat from the impacts of climate change and we need all hands on deck to help safeguard their future. We’re proud to support this project building healthy coastal habitats to support healthy turtle populations.” Ms Marsden said.

📸 Photos kindly supplied by Magnetic island Network for Turtles (MINT)