How heat impacts the turtles at Mon Repos
WITH a motivation to help Bundaberg's turtles Newcastle zookeeper Racheal Mangan has made the 26-hour round trip twice to volunteer at the Mon Repos Turtle Research Centre.
Ms Mangan said she first attended the centre in February 2018 and has shared her experience in honour of World Turtle Day and National Volunteer Week.
"I am keen to do anything helping endangered species and all turtles are threatened or endangered so it was really challenging but rewarding work," Ms Mangan said.
Over the week Ms Mangan recorded measurements of hatchlings and adult turtles, counted clutch sizes and guided hatchlings to the sea.
Captivated by the work, she returned to the centre earlier in February but was shocked by the stark contrast the hotter temperatures had on the turtles.
"I was really taken aback. The nests really took a hit and were at lethal temperatures for turtles," she said.
"If the nest is too hot they can't break out and lose energy and all of them end up trapped.
"A lot of eggs also didn't make it and looked semi-cooked, it was a stark contrast to what I experienced in 2018."
Ms Mangan said she hoped people would realise the effect climate change could have on these creatures.
"Turtles are incredible and worth saving and climate change and plastic is a way we can make a big difference and give them half a chance at surviving."
Ms Mangan said other volunteers who weren't exposed to the high and lows of working with animals found it harder to deal with.
"With 10 years in a zoo environment, I have seen all the phases of an animals life and probably find it that little bit easier to deal with."
Ms Mangan said the volunteers persevered motivated by how the data they recorded would allow people to do more to protect the turtles in the future.
"The best part was helping 52 turtles from one of the nests impacted by heat stress," she said.
"We were able to give them a second chance by collecting the babies who would have remained trapped and taking them to the edge of the beach and that's 52 more turtles in the sea."