Well-considered and necessary protection measures for endangered marine turtles lasted less than 4 weeks after being installed by Sunshine Coast Council at a section of Shelly Beach.
These measures included newly planted, low-growing vegetation and fencing with shade-cloth designed to act as a reasonably natural aesthetic screen. It also provides the function of catching and trapping sand which helps build up and stablise the dunes.
The shade-cloth was intended to provide nesting loggerhead turtles with protection from light from the headlamps of cars and other vehicles driving down William Street. Such moving lights can discourage turtles from coming up the beach, causing them to "turnaround’ prior to or during preparations for laying their eggs and return to the water without laying, causing unwanted stress to this endangered species.
See this supplied image below taken before its removal on 18 December 2020
Due to its topography and other characteristics, Shelly Beach, along with Buddina Beach, is the site of the highest number of loggerhead nests on the Sunshine Coast, and although nest numbers are small compared to the main rookery at Mon Repos, these cooler southern sites are increasingly important for the gender balance of hatchlings as the temperature during development in the egg determines the sex of the hatchling.
The Sunshine Coast TurtleCare program contributes data to the Qld state government's Turtle Conservation Project under Dr. Col Limpus, who is respected worldwide as the leader in this field of research.
Some local residents objected to loss of "visual amenity" caused by the slightly higher (0.9 m) fence and shade cloth, and raised a petition which was tabled at the December 10 Council meeting and referred to the office of the new CEO. A decision was made to provide a "compromise" by removing the shade cloth, which has now occurred, even though the nesting season has only recently started and will continue to around the end of April.
New signs attached to the remaining fence asking drivers to turn off their lights are pointless, as drivers will not see them until the light disturbance on the beach has already occurred. Considering the difficult weather conditions recently experienced, with extensive beach erosion, and with more to come under the influence of the current La Nina, this decision would seem to be most untimely, and against the advice of Council's own expert officers, science and the broader community.
A further study of the coastal strip from the southern end of Shelly Beach northward to Tooway Lake is to proposed to be undertaken by Council in early 2021, with some public consultation in January and February. See the statement on the Facebook page of Division 2 Councillor, Terry Landsberg which describes '𝗙𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗥𝗲𝗻𝗲𝘄𝗮𝗹 - 𝗪𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗮𝗺 𝗦𝘁𝗿𝗲𝗲𝘁, 𝗦𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗵.' Renewal?? The fencing had been in less than 4 weeks! (see image below)
We can only hope this proposed consultation will result in decisions that make a positive and enduring impact on this significant turtle habitat and coastal protection and enhancement more broadly.
BUT IT'S TURTLE NESTING SEASON NOW!
Will you let Council know you want the Sunshine Coast's diminishing habitat for these magnificent marine turtles and our coastal ecosystems improved and protected?
The shade cloth was a key element of this conservation initiative and should be reinstalled immediately and remain until at least the end of April. Its removal was premature, reactive, and ignores the basic requirements and obligations to undertake every effort to protect this increasingly endangered species.
Council is now undertaking the Shelly Beach to Moffat Beach Coastal Study with community feedback open until 22 February - so have your say!
- PETITION UPDATE
- Sunshine Coast Council-Replace the Shade Cloth at Shelly Beach
- Contact the Office of the CEO
- Email or call Division 2 Cr Terry Landsberg
- Let Environment Portfolio holder Cr Maria Suarez know what you think
- We'd love to have your feedback too..