Becoming a TurtleCare Volunteer
  • Last updated:
  • 21 Jul 2016
TurtleCare is made up of local volunteers that spend their summer protecting marine turtle nesting from Caloundra to Point Cartright.

If tracks are located, the volunteers protect the nest with fox predation mesh. Approximately 2 to 3 months later, the volunteers monitor the nest for the hatchlings to naturally emerge.

Volunteers collect vital information on the nests and we submit this data to the Queensland Turtle Conservation Project.

At the start of every turtle season, there is an opportunity to join TurtleCare. Once you have registered your interest, you will be invited to the new volunteer information session in October.

TurtleCare objectives

The aim of the TurtleCare Volunteer Program is to implement an ongoing marine turtle monitoring program for nesting activity on the beaches from Golden Beach to Point Cartwright and Sunshine Beach north to Teewah Beach to identify and record species, nesting locations, frequency and success rates of nesting activity.The program is carried out with the following specific objectives: 

  • To monitor and maintain nesting conditions in as close to the natural state as possible, with minimal interference with habitat, turtles or nests;
  • To gain an understanding of how turtles react to increasing impacts from urbanisation i.e. threatening processes by people, domestic animals, feral species and litter and find a united approach to reduce those threats along the Sunshine Coast; 
  • To encourage community awareness and commitment to turtle conservation through the study and enjoyment of turtles and protection of their environment; 
  • To monitor turtle nesting populations for the two known nesting species, loggerhead & green turtles, on Sunshine Coast beaches and provide annual nesting records to Queensland Department of Environment & Heritage Protection (DEHP) and Sunshine Coast Regional Council; 
  • To monitor the emergence success of clutches; 
  • To monitor and minimise fox predation; 
  • To enlist the assistance of the Local Authority and DEHP regarding regular pest management programs to control fox numbers and provide assistance with monitoring fox numbers and locations as part of this control program; and 
  • To establish a network for reporting strandings and assisting injured turtles washed up on our beaches.

Tips for monitoring an emerging nest

Sea Turtle nests can emerge in the cool of the evening from January through to April of each year. Incubation periods vary according to weather conditions and local sand temperatures and can be quite unpredictable.

Because the shape and compaction of the sand in the chamber is critical to the survival of eggs and emerging hatchlings, do not dig into the chamber at any time over the incubation period.The nest is located about half a metre under the sand. Hatchlings can take several days to climb to the top of the nest and emerge.

Tips for hatchling emergences

  • Switch off torches, cameras or phones as light disorientates the hatchlings and wastes their energy supply.
  • Allow the hatchlings to emerge and move to the beach naturally, without your help. Hatchlings orientate to the earths magnetic field during their trip to the water.
  • Leave the protective mesh on the nest, this will protect the nest from predators.

If Hatchlings emerge on your beach make a note of the date, time and location where the hatchlings emerged and contact TurtleCare to report the emergence (0437 559 067). 

Frequently asked questions

Council does not offer formal viewing of turtle nesting or hatching for the community. Between Shelly Beach and Point Cartwright there are usually between 50 and 70 nests per season spread over approximately 15km of beach. Incubation times of the nests can be quite variable with emergences occurring anywhere from 57 days to 75 days, or even longer in cooler weather. 

The relatively small number of nests combined with the variable incubation times makes it impossible to accurately predict when a nest might emerge. However, if you see TurtleCare volunteers (often in their blue shirts) at a nest waiting for an emergence, please feel free to approach them and ask them questions about the nest. They will be more than happy to chat, and they may be able to give you a bit of an idea of expected emergence dates as it gets closer to the time.

The relatively small number of nests on Sunshine Coast beaches means that you could end up spending a week on the Coast and still not see a nesting turtle. The Department of Environment & Heritage Protection offers an excellent volunteer program at Mon Repos, near Bundaberg, Queensland. You can find more details about their volunteer program on the department's website.

If you have more questions for Turtlecare, you can contact council at