Go slow for those below in flood-affected waters

Issued: 5 Apr 2022

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) is urging boaties to ‘go slow for those below’ these Easter holidays, as marine animals may be harder to see in flood-affected waters.

QPWS Marine Park Ranger Natalie Sands said the combination of increased boating traffic over the holidays and the reduced water visibility following the recent Queensland floods meant there was a higher risk of turtles and dugongs getting injured or killed by boats.

“Turtles and dugongs are surface-breathing marine animals that regularly need to come up for air and risk getting struck by speeding vessels when they do so,” Ranger Sands said.

“Boaties should keep an eye out for marine animals at all times, but especially when travelling over seagrass beds, shallow water or as the tide falls.”

Within the past two weeks, QPWS has received reports from volunteer group Turtles in Trouble Fraser Coast of two stranded sea turtles found with fatal boat strike injuries within the Great Sandy Marine Park.

Turtles in Trouble Fraser Coast team leader Alison Hammond said it was concerning to see multiple boat strikes in such a short period of time.

“Both turtles were adult green turtles and were found in the Boonooroo area with significant boat strike injuries to their shells,” Ms Hammond said.

“One was found deceased and sadly the other one had to be euthanised which is always a devastating outcome.”

Sea World veterinarian Dr Claire Madden said her team was seeing an increase of turtles, dugongs and dolphins with boat-related injuries.

“At Sea World, we see first-hand the impacts boat strikes are having on marine life,” Dr Madden said.

“We are pleased to partner with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service on this campaign encouraging all water users to go slow for those below.”

Keeping vessels “off the plane” (at a reduced speed) in known dugong and turtle areas is an effective way of reducing boat strike injuries or death to marine life.

To help protect marine wildlife from the threat of speeding boats, QPWS enforces Go Slow Areas in known turtle and dugong habitat.

Ranger Sands said skippers travelling through Go Slow Areas were prohibited from operating boats on the plane or in a way that could result in striking marine wildlife.

“QPWS patrols focus on Go Slow Areas and boaties caught doing the wrong thing can face an on-the-spot fine of $551,” she said.

“I urge boaties to get to know the locations and boundaries of the Go Slow Areas in your local marine park.”

Anyone who comes across injured, stranded or dead marine wildlife should report it by calling the Department of Environment and Science on 1300 130 372.

Detailed information on Go Slow Areas is available on the Queensland Government website.