Swimming with sea turtles

Here’s how you can help save Queensland’s sea turtles

Animal lovers, pay attention. While the Sunshine State is not lacking when it comes to turtles (six of the seven species worldwide reside here, after all), population numbers are unfortunately dwindling. But it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s plenty you can do to help save Queensland’s sea turtles.

Not sure where to start when it comes to helping change the endangered status of our state’s shelled residents? Just follow our lead…

1. Make your holiday an educational experience

Sea Turtles

Go back to school: plan a getaway with an educational edge. Take yourself straight to the Great Barrier Reef, which run a series of immersive educational tours around turtle conservation:

March your way to the Southern Great Barrier Reef where you’ll find Heron Island in its midst. Not only is it beautiful here, but it’s turtle heaven, thanks to an ongoing partnership with the Sea Turtle Foundation. Focused on saving turtles and improving conservation efforts, the company aims to educate guests by participating in guided walks. Kids will be equally entertained by the turtle-focused Junior Rangers program, run during school holidays.

On the mainland, Mon Repos in coastal Bundaberg is another turtle favourite. Supporting the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland, this place knows a thing or two about our shelled neighbours.

Mon Repos is now also home to one of the country’s best educational centres for turtles; the multi-million dollar refurbishment of the Mon Repos Turtle Centre has just been completed. There, you’ll come across a space devoted to marine turtle research, protection and education.

2. Turn off the lights

Turtle Hatchling | Sea Turtles

Aside from saving money on your electricity bill, turning off the lights when you find yourself beachside could help save a few lives.

Newly-hatched turtles make their way from nest to sea by following the brightest light they see, which is traditionally the moon. Unfortunately in built-up areas, hatchlings can become easily disoriented and move towards street lights and houses instead.

Next coastal retreat, be mindful of your lights, switching off the unnecessary and using only a small torch (three volts or less) if you’re trawling the beach at dark. You’ll find ample inspiration in Mon Repos, which has long championed the ‘Cut the Glow to help the Turtles Go’ campaign.

3. Go to turtle rehab

Take a trip to a hospital for the shell-laden to get to know the country’s conservation efforts a little better. A hub of starving, sick and injured sea turtles, these rehabilitation centres see turtles nursed back to health and returned to the wild.

Expect to see a collection of temperature-controlled swimming tanks, seagrass aplenty and an army of marine biologists caring for their waterborne patients. Visiting can be as hands-on as you want it to be; volunteering can see you doing anything from cleaning tanks to assisting turtle release back into their natural habitat.

Found yourself in Townsville? Make haste for the Turtle Hospital at Reef HQ Aquarium. The world’s largest living coral reef aquarium, this 2.5 million litre exhibition will introduce you to some of the turtle hospital’s patients, and how you can embrace their community philosophy of C.A.R.E (Conserve. Act. Rehabilitate. Education).

Further afield in Fitzroy Island you’ll find the volunteer operated, non-profit organisation Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, similarly passionate about helping to save the state’s sea turtles.

4. Camp with a conscience

Lady Musgrave Island

Take charge as campground host at North West or Lady Musgrave Islands in the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

Enjoy free camping in exchange of spruiking Queensland Parks and Wildlife’s conservation message, which includes how visitors can help save the district’s dwindling population of sea turtles. There may also be a few other simple daily tasks involved, but they’re just as easy, and range from greeting visitors to helping plant native trees

7. Choose to stay at an eco-friendly resort

Lady Elliot Island | sea turtles

Embracing an environmentally-friendly approach doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, thinking green can extend as far as your next holiday, especially in Queensland. The Sunshine State is home to a gaggle of eco-friendly resorts and islands eager to protect the natural beauty of the district.

Lady Elliot Island was the first island to ban plastic water bottles on its premises, as well as become carbon-neutral thanks to the use of water procured from its own desalination plant.

But that’s not the only eco-friendly island in our midst; among others, the Pumpkin Island Eco Retreat sits in the Great Keppel collection and is powered by the sun and wind. And then there’s the Elysian Eco Retreat, the first entirely solar powered resort on the Great Barrier Reef.

8. Adopt a turtle

Lady Elliot Island | sea turtles

Those not allowed a pet in their rental will find solace in adopting an animal in need. WWF can help you to adopt one of the world’s sea turtles, forming a long-distance relationship for you. You’ll never meet the animal in question, but you can be comforted in the knowledge you’re doing your bit to help save Queensland’s sea turtles.

Instead you’ll donate a minimal monthly fee towards the company’s global conservation efforts. Think funding projects with local communities, monitoring turtles, and further protecting their habitat. This could be considered the ideal pet; low on responsibility but big on environmental benefit.