Loggerhead hatchlings washed ashore by wild coastal swells, hundreds of kilometres from home

By AG STAFF 25 March 2021
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If you find a baby turtle washed up on a NSW beach, don’t return it to the sea, experts say.

Baby turtles are washing ashore along the NSW coastline from Newcastle to the South Coast. If you find one, don’t put it back.

That’s the advice of wildlife rescuers, who warn that endangered loggerhead hatchlings will most likely die if you do.

According to Cathy Gilmore, founder of Australian Seabird Rescue Central Coast, the recent wild weather and huge coastal swells have severely impacted the babies.

“Hatching season is from December to March,” Cathy says. “And the babies are completely at the mercy of the waves. Instead of paddling out to rich feeding grounds around New Zealand, they’re getting caught in the huge swells we’ve been experiencing and washing up on beaches from Newcastle to the NSW South Coast.

Courtesy Australian Seabird Rescue Central Coast

“We have seven loggerheads in care at the moment, and unfortunately another five that were found dead washed up on local beaches. In these ones, we’re finding piece of plastic in their stomachs, which is devastating.”

According to Cathy the turtles, which are around 5–6cm in length, are being looked after by local carers and will be returned to the sea further north, where sea temperatures are warmer, on Monday.

Courtesy Australian Seabird Rescue Central Coast

Loggerhad turtles grow to around 110cm in length and live for 60-plus years. They reach sexual maturity at around 30 years.

“If you do find a hatchling, please don’t return it to the sea around here,” Cathy says. “Get in touch with your local Australian Seabird Rescue group.”

For more information visit Australian Seabird Rescue.