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Mystify me: Meet the Sunshine Coast's best conservation worker

Statewide

Loggerhead turtle Mystify has visited Buddina Beach three times already this nesting season, having been tracked by conservationists for over a decade, making her the most researched turtle on the Sunshine Coast.

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This nesting season, TurtleCare Sunshine Coast has recorded three separate visits to Buddina Beach by the specially tagged (K90712) turtle named Mystify, providing much needed information on the endangered species.

Loggerheads typically lay eggs every four years, whereas Mystify has been visiting the Sunshine Coast every one to two years, leading volunteers to believe she lives nearby.

She has been tracked for over a decade, initially tagged in December 2010, and has visited the Sunshine Coast 17 times over 10 breeding seasons.

Mystify returning to the ocean. (Image: Supplied)

This season, volunteers have observed Mystify laying three clutches, with approximately 500 of her hatchlings reaching the ocean.

Research by the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research suggests that the female loggerhead turtle is likely to return to the beach of their birthplace in order to give their offspring a higher chance of survival.

This suggests Mystify may have been visiting the Sunshine Coast for much longer than the decade she has been tracked for.

Sunshine Coast Council Conservation Officer Kate Hofmeister said that TurtleCare Sunshine Coast has been collecting information on turtles for over 16 years and Mystify has contributed her data for over a decade, making her the most researched turtle on the Sunshine Coast.

The volunteers collect information on carapace (shell) length, nesting frequency, location and nesting success rate.

Hofmeister said the long-term data set is a significant achievement in turtle conservation because it provides consistent information to better understand changes in nesting turtle populations.

One of Mystify’s hatchlings. (Image: supplied)

“This data helps us to better understand the nesting patterns of marine turtles so that we can contribute to improved protection of these ancient animals,” she said.

“Our data tells us our Sunshine Coast nesting turtle population is stable, and a large part of that is thanks to the dedication of our highly trained TurtleCare and Coolum and North Shore Coast Care volunteers.”

During nesting season, which occurs between October and March, volunteers will walk the beaches looking for nesting signs, protecting nests from predators, or safely relocating at-risk nests to increase chances of survival for the hatchlings.

Monitoring for turtle activity occurs from Golden Beach to Point Cartwright.

Hofmeister said community cooperation is vital for ensuring the highest survival rates during nesting season.

“Turtle nesting season is a time when the whole community can come together to celebrate and help protect these threatened species – keep plastic waste out of waterways and off beaches and cut the glow of lights after 8pm during turtle nesting season,” she said.

To report turtle tracks, new nests and emerging hatchlings call either Sunshine Coast Council’s Turtle Care hotline or Coolum and North Shore Coast Care.

For sightings on the southern end of the coast call 0437 559 067 and for sightings from Mooloolaba north call Coolum and North Shore Coast Care on 0403 370 157.

Find out more about native marine turtles, the TurtleCare volunteer program and the tracking project.

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