Bells toll to welcome the first nesting turtles

Issued: 4 November 2020

The sound of bells tolling has echoed across Bundaberg today to shell-abrate the arrival of the first nesting turtle of the season at Mon Repos.

Ranger in Charge of the Mon Repos Turtle Centre Cathy Gatley said the ringing of the bells is based on an ancient Scottish tradition to welcome back fishing boats returning to port, adapted to herald the start of each turtle season.

“St Peter’s Anglican Church in Bargara was the first to ring its bells today,” Mrs Gatley said.

“It’s a turtle-y wonderful tradition that Bundaberg locals and tourists look forward to each year with great anticipation.

“Staff noticed the first flatback turtle came ashore this week.

“We’re hoping it will be another busy nesting season with waves of turtles swimming to Mon Repos’s shores to lay their eggs.

“Last year 386 turtles migrated to nest on the beaches of the Woongarra Coast.

“On top of this, 25,668 people visited Mon Repos during the previous turtle season which is a testament to its popularity and educational value for visitors.”

Mrs Gatley said this year’s turtle season will be slightly different due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Our COVID-19 safe plan has seen us limit the number of tickets to our world-leading turtle education and conservation centre,” she said.

“If you’re planning on visiting us at the centre for a day tour you now need to book online, or if joining one of our ranger-guided turtle encounters then I encourage you to snap up your tickets as they’re selling fast.”

Mon Repos Turtle Encounter is the only ranger-guided turtle encounter available on the east coast and is instrumental in the research into turtle conservation.

Last season Mon Repos was re-developed and visitors flocked to the $22 million centre for a fully immersive turtle experience.

Mon Repos supports the largest population of nesting loggerhead turtles in the South Pacific and is critical to the survival of this endangered turtle.

Please visit the Mon Repos Turtle Centre website for more information.