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New street lights give turtles power to survive

Published: 23 May 2018 4:13pm

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Turtles hatching along the Bundaberg coastline have a better chance of survival thanks to the replacement of 17 street lights identified as the most disruptive to their efforts to make their way to the ocean.

Sea Turtle Alliance vice-president John Gatley said his group was delighted Ergon Energy crews had completed the installation of the new lights last week and they were now urging coastal residents and businesses to also play their part.

Mr Gatley said the alliance recognised that light from the mainland caused many hatchlings to take their first tentative steps in-land rather than towards the ocean.

“The survival rate for hatchlings becoming adult turtles and for the females to return to our coastline to breed is already very low due to the many risks they face in nature,” he said.

“So it’s vital we do everything possible to ensure as many of the hatchlings as possible at least get to start their journey safely.

“Replacing these street lights will make an important contribution to that, but what we really hope is this project will educate residents and businesses so they too reduce the amount of light they emit towards the coast between October and April.”

Mr Gatley said the alliance had delivered the project after securing a $30,000 grant from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund.

“Bundaberg Regional Council then added funding so all 17 lights could be purchased and co-ordinated with Ergon Energy, which has looked after the installation of the lights for us,” he said.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said the spirit of cooperation exhibited by Ergon and the Sea Turtle Alliance demonstrated the high regard the Council and its corporate partners have for the protection of sea turtles.

“Council is committed to the Low Glow program and is delighted to have been involved in this partnership, resulting in the installation of turtle friendly lighting,” he said.

“Projects like this resonate across all age levels in the community. I know the Reef Guardian students from many local schools share an enthusiasm to implement initiatives that ensure the ongoing protection of these marine creatures.

“We have a magnificent natural asset at our front door and we have an obligation to ensure we implement best practice within areas of their habitat.”

Energy Queensland General Manager Customer, Brand and External Relations Michael Dart said Ergon crews installed the final new lights last week and the shades would be installed before the next turtle breeding season to ensure more hatchlings found their way to the water next summer.

“While these lights reduce the impact on turtles, they still meet the Australian standards so they don’t compromise the safety of road users or residents of the area,” Mr Dart said.

“We congratulate the alliance and council for taking this initiative and we’re pleased we’ve been able to support their efforts by installing the lights.”

Mr Gatley said the new LED lights were located close to Oaks Beach, Kelly’s Beach, Archies Beach and Elliott Heads.

“In some cases, the lights were moved across the street or the fittings were attached lower on the pole to reduce the light spillage towards the ocean,” he said.

Mr Gatley said he was pleased to learn the council and Ergon were discussing the best approach to replace further coastal street lights with low glow turtle lighting to build on the alliance’s initiative.

Media Contact: Rod Rehbein
Phone: 4153 9813 or 0407 031 072

Turtle light picture