With nesting season for marine turtles nearing, Sunshine Coast schools are being encouraged to sign up for the annual Schools Beach Clean Up Super Series. Commencing on October 17, the event helps students learn about local beaches, coastal processes and waste reduction strategies.
The Schools Beach Clean Up is also an opportunity help protect endangered species, such as the Loggerhead turtle and vulnerable Green turtle. Both species come ashore from November to lay their eggs on Sunshine Coast beaches.
Sunshine Coast councillor Peter Cox says students signing up to the beach clean up have a rewarding and enriching experience. They are also making a positive contribution to the Sunshine Coast environment.
“Each year hundreds of Sunshine Coast students step up to clean up the sand and dunes for the nesting turtles,” Cr Cox says.
He says in 2021, 686 students, parents and teachers from 10 schools participated in the program. They removed around 100 kilograms of rubbish from 14 beaches across the Sunshine Coast.
“The feedback from teachers is that it’s an impactful way to learn about how we can all change our behaviour to create a more sustainable future,” Cr Cox says.
The half-day program has students cleaning up their local beach. They’re also learning about coastal processes and generating ideas to reduce waste at the source.
The Schools Beach Clean Up Super Series
This year’s Schools Beach Clean Up Super Series runs from October 17 to November 4. Students clear rubbish and clean up a local beach while also getting information about the issue of marine debris and a safety talk.
Stage 2 of the program involves sorting and recording the rubbish into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative’s official database. Students also explore the power of waves, discovering amazing information and learning fun facts about the local coastal processes. They will also learn about the flora and fauna that call Sunshine Coast’s beaches home.
The final stage of the program is where students reflect on the data. It’s an opportunity to discuss possible actions and solutions to these local challenges.
Turtles of the Sunshine Coast
The main species nesting on the Sunshine Coast beaches are the Loggerhead turtle and, less frequently, the Green turtle. Approximately 500 nesting females make up the population of Loggerheads nesting in eastern Australia. This makes the Sunshine Coast sub-population somewhat important.
Adult Loggerheads can reach 150kg. They lay between 95 and 150 eggs, but in Australia the average clutch is 127 eggs. Females nesting on the Sunshine Coast nest at intervals of between 10 and 14 days. Incubation varies from 56 to 90 days.
Green turtles are found throughout tropical and sub-tropical Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. Raine Island in the Great Barrier Reef, is one of the largest Green turtle nesting populations in the world. Roughly 18,000 females nest in a single season. They can lay between one and seven clutches in a season and the average clutch contains about 110 eggs.
Interested schools can register online on or before Wednesday, October 12.