IN PROGRESS: Mon Repos Turtle visitor centre.
IN PROGRESS: Mon Repos Turtle visitor centre. Mike Knott BUN250319TUR3

Turtally good season: Tours come to an end after top year

WHILE there is still a few weeks left of turtle hatchlings, the tours for the 2018/19 season have come to an end.

Mon Repos ranger in charge Cathy Gatley said the tourism numbers had been good this season.

"For the five months of the turtle tour season we've had just under 30,000 people for the season, so we've had lots of people coming to the region to see nestings and hatching turtles,” she said.

"I think it's slightly down on last season - we did have, after the cyclone, late February did have to drop our people back.

"We would have had more numbers but we actually had to cancel people just due to the impact on the beach from the big tides that we had.”

Ms Gatley said this season there had been about 385 individual loggerhead turtles, with each of those turtles laying an average of four clutches for the season with 130 eggs.

It all means there has been lots of hatchlings. There was also five flatbacks and one green turtle recorded.

"It's very similar (numbers) to last year, except for the green turtle,” Ms Gatley said.

"It's slightly down but that was expected and across the board for all green turtle nesting sites because they had a big season last year.

"It's very dependant on food source for green turtles and we're at the very bottom of their nesting area here.”

She said hatchlings would still be crossing the beach throughout April and "sometimes it even extends after that”.

"We've had one late turtle this season that's been in nesting, I think she was last in two weeks ago, so it takes about eight weeks for those eggs to incubate,” Ms Gatley said.

"So yes we will still have hatchlings, but not enough to keep the tourism program going. But the beach does remain closed from 6pm through to the end of April, just so that we look after our turtles.”

With the new turtle centre currently under construction, Ms Gatley said it was looking likely to be completed in time for the next season.

"This will replace our existing centre, it's going to have state-of-the-art interpretative centre in it...,” she said.

"It's going to have a little theatre rep which is like an immersive room, which will help the experience for people who are coming here out of season, to see what it's like down on the beach.

"And also it has a cafe and retail area as well, so it's a place for people to stop in as they might be undertaking a bike ride or a walk and enjoy Mon Repos Conservation Park.”

She said there won't be a change in the capacity of their night-time tours. This season Ms Gatley said there was more than 50 local volunteers throughout the season.

Don't miss our report in coming days for a more detailed breakdown of visitor numbers.