Helping Turtles Surmount Hurdles in Australia

One of the best reasons to visit Port Hedland, Australia might be to play turtle nursemaid and protector for a few weeks in the summer.

Every year from November to February, the beaches of Port Hedland become thriving turtle nurseries, as flatback sea turtles return to their native nesting sites to lay and bury clutches of eggs in the sand.

Australia is thought to be the only country in which this species of turtle nests. In a given year, the turtles may lay up to 160,000 eggs; even so, it’s estimated that only 1 in 10,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood if they come from a beach in a developed area like Port Hedland.

Care for Hedland accepts volunteers to help monitor and track turtle activity on Port Hedland’s beaches and has no minimum stay requirement for people who want to get involved.

The main responsibility of a volunteer is to get up at 6:30am each morning and look for new egg-laying evidence, generally indicated by tracks left at the previous night’s high tide line. It’s advisable to get in touch as early as October to secure a spot and organize details.

Regardless, anyone passing through Port Hedland for even two days in the summer can probably help out if they call ahead, and onlookers are welcome at any time to accompany the volunteers as they make their morning treks.

BIG4 Holiday Parks helping turtles
Port Tourist Park Helping turtles

Photos courtesy of: Care of Hedland Association (top left, bottom right), BIG4 Holiday Parks (bottom left), and Port Tourist Park (top right).

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Comments 2

  1. When I first finished high school I moved up to Port Hedland to live with my Dad who was working for one of the mining companies up there. I had no idea that there was any wildlife protection going on up there, albeit any opportunities to volunteer with turtles – though it was about 12 years ago I was last there, so perhaps it didn’t exist then. I know of a few other places along the west coast that also offers turtle volunteering opportunities as well. The fact this one has no minimum stay is awesome. I might have to check it out the next time I’m up there.

  2. This is fantastic! I watched a documentary recently, like a month or so ago, and so many of these poor turtles were getting misdirected to the streets instead of the ocean. They follow the moonlight instinctively but the city glow made them confused. Many of them die each year and it is so sad. This gives me hope though. People willing to help out mother nature, it is a beautiful thing.

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