Sea Turtle Surveying can be done on your early morning walk and requires no equipment. During your walk there will be some ‘turtle signs’ to look out for such as tracks, eggs and nests. Once you’ve completed your walk simply upload what you’ve seen and go about your day.
Sea turtles usually nest at night so getting to the beach first thing in the morning will increase your chance of spotting the signs. If you get there nice and early there is less chance that their tracks will have been covered over by the wind, the tide or human activities on the beach.
Turtles typically nest in vegetated areas above the high tide line to avoid the risk of the nest being flooded by the incoming tide.
A good place to start is to walk along the high-tide line. Turtle tracks will be about one metre wide, heading into the dunes.
Please keep a record of where you have walked so that you can enter it into our online database. We suggest using lifeguard hut numbers to map your survey distance. The complete map of lifeguard huts on the Gold Coast can be found Here.
For example, you may choose to walk from Clifford Street in Surfers Paradise to South Narrowneck. On your data sheet you should record a walk from lifeguard hut 33 to lifeguard hut 37 noting the time you leave/reach each hut (see image to left of text).
Please keep an eye out for feral animals in the dunes, significant erosion, vandalism of dune vegetation and anything else that you think may impact turtles and turtle nesting. You can record these impacts on your data sheet to help us monitor crucial nesting habitat.
As discussed in the ‘Turtle Basics’ section, there are two species of turtles known to nest in the Gold Coast region; Green and Loggerhead Turtles. Each species leaves different tracks. Please take a photo of any tracks you see and send them to us for ID. In order to build up your own skills, familiarise yourself with the characteristics displayed in the below images so you can learn to identify track yourself.
After completing this online induction we do not expect you to be an expert at turtle track identification so please always ensure you take a photo and send it through to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in learning more we will give more detailed training in our face-to-face workshops.
Turtle tracks can sometimes be mistaken for tyre tracks from beach cleaning trucks and 4WD vehicles. It is important that you are able to distinguish turtle tracks from other tracks:
Tyre tracks will usually be traveling across the beach, with the exception of beach access points and life guard stations.
In the case of turtle tracks, you will usually see two sets of tracks; one leading from the ocean to the dunes, and one leading from the dunes, back to the ocean. Rather than being straight and regular, they are likely to appear irregular, with directional changes that would be difficult for a vehicle to make.
The TurtleWatch datasheet is simple and easy to fill in and will help us enormously in our quest to understand sea turtles and monitor the health of vital nesting habitat.
To complete it, go to the TurtleWatch webpage: https://watergum.org/citizenscience/
Scroll down to find the TurtleWatch Walkers data tab where you can log your date and also look at everyone else’s data.
Simply fill in the prompts and submit!
If you find sea turtles, tracks or nesting activity, take lots of photos and call the Turtle Watch coordinators ASAP.
Remember: Not finding any activity is important data too so please record all turtle watch walks on our online datasheet.
We are also collecting information that might help us to understand why turtles are nesting in certain areas. Please report potential impacts on the beaches such as significant erosion, littering, vandalism of native dune vegetation and feral animals. If you see interesting native wildlife while out walking please record it on your datasheet, take photos and feel free to share on the TurtleWatch Facebook Group!