Residents of Queensland are fortunate to have such a rich sea life right at their doorsteps. In fact, six of the seven marine turtle species of the world make their homes in Queensland. While the leatherback only visits during the winter, the remaining five stay their entire lives here. Since there is so much to learn about the differences between these beautiful creatures, we’ll cover three of the most prominent.
Also known as Chelonia mydas, the beloved Green Turtle has a very rounded head, helping it glide through the waters. It’s a fairly sizeable turtle, growing up to four feet long, on average, weighing over 400 pounds. It’s easily identifiable by the large scales, four on each side of the shell. Although, they are called green turtles, the shell can have reds, browns, and blacks. Green turtles like the coral reefs for protection and to feed on the algae and small prey.
A female green turtle can lay up to 115 eggs. They come to nest between the months of November and March, typically on the islands that sit north and south of the Great Barrier Reef. Raine Island is the most popular viewing location.
Also known as Eretmochelys imbricate, the Hawksbill Turtle is the smallest turtle of the bunch, growing to about three feet in length, on average and weighing around 150 pounds. Their head is very narrow and they have a beak-like mouth, hence the name. Hawksbill turtles are the only sea turtles with two pairs of prefrontal scales on the head and four pairs of costal scutes on the carapace. They have very distinct scale patterns and are easy to identify this way.
Like the green turtle, this turtle species also prefers algae, seaweed, jellyfish, etc. They will lay slightly more than the green turtle, averaging around 130 eggs. They stay around the northern Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strait, nesting all year, but with the most occurring in the months of Jan. and Feb.
Also known as Caretta caretta, the Loggerhead Turtle grows to a similar size as green turtles, but with stark contrast in shape and color. Their heads are more pointed and their jaws are more prominent. Their shell has a heart-shaped pattern, with five scales on each size. Loggerheads are red and brown in color. They are less camouflaged than green turtles, for example, as they prowl shallow waters around the Great Barrier Reef for crustaceans, sea urchins, muscles, and the occasional jellyfish.
Loggerheads will lay about 125 eggs from November until the end of January on the Bundaberg Coast in Queensland or on the islands to the south.