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Plan to help turtles at popular nesting beach

The north Shelly Beach Pilot Project starts Monday for better nesting conditions for turtles.

Plan to help turtles at popular nesting beach
Adriana Watson

A project is underway at one of the Sunshine Coast’s most popular turtle nesting beaches to make it even more enticing for the ancient mariners to visit.

This week (starts Monday 20 May) Sunshine Coast Council will be at north Shelly Beach making some changes to the dunes to create more space for critically endangered loggerhead turtles to lay their nests.

The project is aligned with the outcomes of the Shelly Beach to Moffat Beach coastal study, which were informed with feedback from our community, and industry and government experts.

More space for turtle nesting

Sunshine Coast Council’s Environmental Operations Manager Adam Connell said the goal of the project was to enhance what our community loved about the area and make some changes to improve conditions for turtles nesting on the beach.

“To do this we are using a best practice approach that incorporates advice from the technical experts at the Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation and the Queensland Herbarium for dune and vegetation to enhance turtle nesting habitat,” Mr Connell said.

“Cottonwood trees are encroaching on the turtle nesting habitat and the turtles can’t access some sections of foredune to lay their nests due to the dense coverage and root system.

Some cottonwood trees will be removed using a machine from the foredune

“Native cottonwood trees are a part of the typical dunal ecosystem found along our coastline. Here at Shelly they have an unusual growth pattern which extends to the frontal dune.

“So, this project involves using machines to remove some cottonwood stands in the foredune and restoring the dunes to a condition that provides the best opportunity for turtle nesting success.

“The foredune will be replanted with spinifex and native ground covers that better represent the group of plants you would expect to find in this dunal environment.

“Further back in the dunes, native trees and shrubs will be planted to help fill in the gaps and block light – both direct light and sky glow from distant lights – shining onto the beach.

“This will help to create a dark horizon which is very important for turtle sea-finding behaviour.

Turtle tracks at Shelly Beach. Credit Sue Moxon.

“This pilot project is a trial and if successful it could be rolled out to other areas of Shelly Beach foreshore.

“The work will take place at the end of William Street, between beach accesses 277 and 278 and we thank our community for their patience as we work to nurture and enhance our environment for this endangered species." 

Work will only take place within the pilot site footprint outlined in red above.

Council has received all local, State and Australian government approvals required to undertake the work which is being done outside of turtle nesting season.

What’s involved in the project

Council will:

  • remove cottonwoods  from the foredune
  • reprofile and restore the dunes with plants you would expect to find in this dunal environment and that support turtle nesting outcomes
  • plant trees and shrubs in the dunes to help fill the gaps and block the light shining onto the beach (creating a dark horizon) so it’s better for turtle sea-finding behaviour.
  • discreetly plant individual trees along the coastal pathway that are aesthetically pleasing and contribute to the overall enjoyment of our community and helping to create a dark horizon
  • extend the existing temporary beach fencing at the front of the pilot study area to help protect the dunes.

For more background and information on the project visit Council’s website and search ‘North Shelly Beach Pilot Project’.

An informal beach access has been closed as part of the project.

This article Plan to help turtles at popular nesting beach has been supplied from the OurSC website and has been published here with permission.