Turtle Watching Guidelines
Heron Island is a significant nesting location for two vulnerable turtle species, the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta). Strict guidelines are in place for the viewing of nesting and hatching turtles, which starts each year in around November. The little hatchlings look vulnerable because well, they are, especially when it comes to light. They use light horizons to navigate out to sea. If bright artificial light is present, they will get confused and head for that. They can become lost inland and waste what little energy they have trying to find their way. Here are some simple pointers to make sure both you and the turtles have a great experience.
To find a turtle, simply walk along Heron Beach one or two hours after the evening’s high tide. Look for the tracks in the sand where the turtle has come in from the sea.
- Light can disturb and disorient the turtles, minimise the use of torches and be sure to only use 3-volt low-impact torches. No flash photography, please.
- When you see a turtle moving up or down the beach ,stay still. Excessive movement can disturb her. And remember to never walk in front of a turtle. Instead, walk behind them.
- If the turtles feel threatened or disturbed, they will turn around and head back out to sea and not lay their eggs. Try not to approach them.
- If you come upon a turtle while digging, give her some room. Sit down quietly behind the turtle and at least 10 metres away. A girl needs her privacy. Once she has finished digging, wait at least 15 minutes, then you may approach her from behind.
- The turtles are quite stressed and tired after their night's work, so again, give her some room (10 metres) so as not to panic her.