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Featured Wildlife Journeys

Turtles

There are seven species of marine turtles worldwide, six of which are found around Australia’s coastline. The Ningaloo Marine Park is one of the world’s most precious nesting areas, home to 6,000 sea turtles, with three species (Green, Hawkesbill and Loggerhead) known to lay eggs between December and February. From January through March (approximately six weeks after laying), the hatchlings emerge across the sandy beaches in their first battle to survive numerous predators. 

Green and Loggerhead Turtles also nest on Lady Elliot Island's island’s sandy dunes from November until March, providing the opportunity to see the hatchlings emerge through until May. Whilst the baby turtles generally crawl out towards the ocean in the evening, they can sometimes emerge late in the afternoon if the weather is cooler or overcast. Turtles do not breed every season with Loggerheads nesting at 3 - 5 year intervals and Greens at 5 - 7 year intervals.

Marine turtles have a long lifespan, but can take several decades to reach breeding maturity. The largest of the sea turtles is the Leatherback, with a weight up to 400kg, with this species being more common across the southern temperate waters.

Viewing opportunities that include turtles

Seasons
  • Green Turtle

    Summer: Dec-Feb, Lady Elliot Island

    During the summer, Green and Loggerhead Turtles nest on the island’s pristine sandy dunes. These species do not reach sexual maturity until 30-40 years of age, with most females thought to return to their original hatching site to have their own young.

    Females will lay a number of clutches of eggs during the season, approximately two weeks apart, with Loggerheads generally laying 3 - 5 clutches and Greens laying 5 - 7 clutches. Laying of the eggs can be a long process, generally taking place after dark, taking between 2 - 8 hours.

    After nesting, it will take 8-9 weeks for the hatchlings to emerge between January and May. Whilst the baby turtles generally crawl out towards the ocean in the evening, they can sometimes emerge late in the afternoon if the weather is cooler or overcast. Turtles do not breed every season with Loggerheads nesting at 3 - 5 year intervals and Greens at 5 - 7 year intervals.

    The critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle can be seen in the surrounding waters at this time, with it’s spectacular black, brown and white patterned shell (carapace).

  • Green Turtle (Credit: Funtraveltv)

    Autumn: Mar-May, Lady Elliot Island

    Green and Loggerhead Turtles nest on the island’s pristine sandy dunes up until March, providing the amazing opportunity to see the hatchlings emerge through until May.

    Females will lay a number of clutches of eggs during the summer season, approximately two weeks apart, with Loggerheads generally laying 3 - 5 clutches and Greens laying 5 - 7 clutches. Laying of the eggs can be a long process, generally taking place after dark, taking between 2 - 8 hours.

    After nesting, it will take 8-9 weeks for the hatchlings to emerge between January and May. Whilst the baby turtles generally crawl out towards the ocean in the evening, they can sometimes emerge late in the afternoon if the weather is cooler or overcast. Turtles do not breed every season with Loggerheads nesting at 3 - 5 year intervals and Greens at 5 - 7 year intervals.

    The critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle can be seen in the surrounding waters at this time, with it’s spectacular black, brown and white patterned shell (carapace).

  • Green Turtle

    Winter: Jun-Aug, Lady Elliot Island

    The surrounding waters provide abundant opportunities to see three species of turtle; the Green Turtle, Loggerhead Turtles and critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle.

    The Green Turtle is the most common species across the Great Barrier Reef and is a herbivore, preferring to eat seagrass and algae. The Hawksbill Turtle has a more diverse diet as an omnivore, feeding on sponges, tunicates, shrimp, squids, sea cucumbers and soft corals, whilst the Loggerhead Turtle is a carnivore, feeding on animals such as crabs, sea urchins, and jellyfish.

    Turtles typically migrate 400km between their feeding grounds and their selected nesting sites, but some animals recorded travelling an incredible 2,500 km. All three turtles can be seen year round, with the Green and Loggerhead turtles nesting on the island between November and March.

  • Green Turtle

    Spring: Sep-Nov, Lady Elliot Island

    Green and Loggerhead Turtles commence nesting on the island’s pristine sandy dunes in November. Prior to this the mating season takes place for a month, with females mating with numerous males to ensure all their eggs are fertilized for nesting sessions through the warmer months.

    Females will lay a number of clutches of eggs, approximately two weeks apart, with Loggerheads generally laying 3 - 5 clutches and Greens laying 5 - 7 clutches. Laying of the eggs can be a long process, generally taking place after dark, taking between 2 - 8 hours. Turtles do not breed every season with Loggerheads nesting at 3 - 5 year intervals and Greens at 5 - 7 year intervals.

    The critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle can be seen in the surrounding waters at this time, with it’s spectacular black, brown and white patterned shell (carapace) a highlight for divers and snorkellers.

  • Green Turtle (Credit: Australia's Coral Coast)

    Summer: Dec-Feb, Ningaloo & Exmouth

    The Ningaloo Marine Park is one of the world’s most precious nesting areas, home to 6,000 sea turtles, with three species (Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead) known to lay eggs between December and February. From January through March (approximately six weeks after laying), the hatchlings emerge across the sandy beaches in their first battle to survive numerous predators.

    Tours in Ningaloo & Exmouth related to Turtles

  • Green Turtle (Credit: Australia's Coral Coast)

    Autumn: Mar-May, Ningaloo & Exmouth

    The Ningaloo Marine Park is one of the world’s most precious nesting areas, home to 6,000 sea turtles, with three species (Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead) nesting. From January through March (approximately six weeks after laying), the hatchlings emerge across the sandy beaches in their first battle to survive numerous predators. 

    Tours in Ningaloo & Exmouth related to Turtles