Talk on Sea Turtle Conservation

Whale Coast Conservation

Date(s) - 26/08/2015
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Green House


An audience of about 75 gathered at the Green House on 26 August to hear a good news conservation story.

Dr George Hughes gave a fascinating account of the research and conservation work on turtles that he pioneered in 1963. It is a remarkable story of how education and information about the perilous state of sea turtle populations influenced communities and led to conservation efforts in many parts of the world.

Dr Hughes talked passionately about these remarkable reptiles that have been around for 100,000 years. The largest is the leatherback turtle that nests (together with loggerhead turtles) on our north eastern shores. They can grow to 3m in length. Female turtles always return to the nesting site where they hatched, even thousands of kilometres from their feeding sites. They navigate according to the magnetic memory of the location set in their brains during incubation. But how so they navigate back to their feeding grounds, or if they are removed to locations thousands of kilometres away? Even George doesn’t know. But they will swim non-stop for months with unerring direction back to where they belong.

Female turtles reach breeding maturity around age 25 years. They will only breed if their nutritional state is optimal, which may be infrequent, depending on the availability of food. They can lay as many as 5 clutches of around 100 eggs during a breeding season.

Turtles can regulate body temperature to 31o C even in arctic waters. How does a reptile do this? It has a heat-exchange mechanism in the front flippers that acts like a heat pump.

To quote George: “Turtles are very cute.” I agree.

Dr George Hughes chatted to WCC Patron Judge Mark Kumleben before his presentation.

Dr George Hughes chatted to WCC Patron Judge Mark Kumleben before his presentation.