On the Tenth Day of Christmas I Finally Got to See

Ten Turtles Tapping,
Nine Whale Sharks Waiting,
Eight Dingos Digging,
Seven Cassowaries,
Six Emus Eating,
Five Great White Sharks,
Four Koalas Cuddling,
Three Snapping Crocs, 
Two Red Kangaroos,
And a Kookaburra in a Gum Tree

Don’t you just LOVE turtles. I don’t think I have come across anyone on my travels who doesn’t want to see one on their underwater adventures.

Two of the most popular seasons for the turtle is during their nesting and hatching periods. This gives everyone a chance to observe these gorgeous creatures on land, as long as we follow the correct procedures of course.

Mating and nesting is a very traumatic time for the females, and if you have seen Blue Planet you will know that the males fight over the female. Sometimes there can be 5 male turtles chasing one singular lady. A hard life being a good looking turtle isn’t it, you wait around all day for 5 to come at once! 

It can get pretty aggresive and sometimes the females can’t even reach the surface to breathe. 

A green sea turtle resting on the coral.
Taking a rest on the reef after nesting

After the trauma of mating, it then comes to nesting time. After the sun goes down they will swim up and down the shoreline to find the perfect spot. Here they then exit the water to start the difficult accent up the sand dunes. The dunes might not look big to us but for a turtle it can be everest! They need to get high up the banks to ensure the eggs don’t get washed away by incoming tides. 

It is incredibly hard to study the start of a turtles life (Well… not from experience, just from what I have read). They are actually known as “The lost years”, which sounds like it could be the next jurrasic park film, what do you think?! Does anyone know what little hatchlings get up to in the first few years of their life? 

A really sad statistic is that only around 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will survive, after all the hard work the mother has gone through. The gender of the hatchling is actually dependent on the temperature of the nest. More females will hatch with warmer sand. How cool?! 

A turtle swimming over coral.
Turtle gliding over the coral

Another great fact I found is that most turtles will actually return to nest on the beach where they originally hatched. They are very sentimental creatures.

Even though they spend most of their lives under the surface of the ocean, they need to breathe above sea level. Diving down into the water to look for a tasty snack or comfy coral to lie upon, will only last so long until they need to resurface to take another vital breath. 

Unfortunately this means that turtles can drown! Drowning most commonly occurs when they are caught inside fishing nets as by catch or too many males are fighting over a female during mating season. 

After taking a breath on the surface, a turtle swims back down for food.
Turtle diving back down from the surface

After a very stressful season, it is easy to believe that turtles need to have a good cry. Sometimes that can make everything better! 

Just kidding, turtles can cry but for a completely different reason. They can make themselves cry to remove any sand that has found its way into their eyes. A great skill to have after digging so many big holes in the sand.

Where can you spot a turtle? 

There are many places around Australia where you can see the turtles, but Mon Repos on the Bundaberg coastline is home to the largest concentration of nesting sea turtles on the east coast! If you would like to see these beautiful creatures above sea level this is the place to be. Depending on what you want to see will determine what time of year you should visit. 

During November to late March is the time to look out for female turtles making the treacherous journey up the sand dunes to lay their eggs. We were lucky enough to spot a female digging a hole for her eggs on the sand dunes of Five Mile Beach, Jurabi Coastal Reserve, WA.

A female turtle laying her eggs on the beach.
Turtle nesting on Five Mile Beach, Jurabi Coastal Reserve, WA

January to late March will give you the opportunity to see the the little hatchlings make their way back to sea! We still haven’t witnessed the hatchlings scurry back to the sea but hopefully one day soon.

Turtles do their best to avoid the heat of the day so nesting and hatching happens mostly between dawn and dusk, so start eating your carrots now! Or go on a night of the full moon, there will be plenty of light to help you find them along the sand.

You can book a tour to have an experienced guide show you the best spots or you can go searching for the turtles independently. If you choose to go alone remember to follow the turtle watching guidelines as they are very sensitive to sound and noise. It is a very stressful time for them so Stop, Drop and be a Rock

I love that saying.

Sarah swimming with a turtle.
Me and a turtle!

Swimming with turtles is on everyone’s bucket list when visiting Australia, to increase your chances any where on the Ningaloo reef or the Great Barrier Reef are great places to go.

Our top spots have been Lady Elliot Island, Cape Range National Park and Coral Bay on the Ningaloo Reef.

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