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Council changes light to help baby turtles get out to sea


Photo by @laurenepbath

Turtle hatchlings on Magnetic Island will now have a better chance of reaching the ocean with Townsville City Council changing a street light near a nesting beach to a warm-coloured LED light.

Community Health, Safety and Environmental Sustainability Committee chairperson Maurie Soars said the new street light would help keep baby turtles on the right path to the ocean.

“Locals and visitors to Magnetic Island are lucky enough to share their space with a variety of sea turtles, who use the beaches to nest,” Cr Soars said.

“When newly hatched turtles emerge from the nest they try to find their way to the sea by following light. Hatchlings can become disoriented by artificial lights, which can lead them away from the sea.

“This is why Council has swapped a bright street light near the beach below Base Backpackers with a warm-coloured LED light.”

Cr Soars said the new light would pose less of a distraction to turtle hatchlings.

“Warm-coloured LED lights have been trialled by Ergon at Mon Repos near Bundaberg, and have been a success. We’re hoping that the same success can be replicated on the island to help our local turtles get out to sea safely,” he said.

“Warm colours, like red, orange and yellow are less likely to interfere with the hatchlings’ journey to the sea.

“If this trial is successful Council will look at installing these lights at other known turtle nesting sites.”

He said the recent installation of coloured lights at the end of Picnic Bay Jetty used similar turtle-friendly technology.

“Reducing manmade impact on natural environments is important to Council, which is why we used lights that would have very little impact on turtles and other marine life,” he said.

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