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The Largest Sea Turtle Nesting Revealed on Remote Island

Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Image via Wikimedia.

The world’s largest sea turtle nesting site has been discovered on a remote island, with over 10,000 nests identified. This remarkable find highlights the critical importance of preserving marine habitats and ensuring the survival of these endangered creatures.

Raine Island

Location of Raine Island. Image via Google Maps screenshot.

Raine Island, is a small, vegetated coral cay approximately 620 kilometers (385 miles) north of Cairns, Australia. Located on the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, the remote island is one of the most significant sea turtle nesting sites globally, particularly for green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas).

Conservation on the Island

Diver with Sea Turtle.
Diver with Sea Turtle. Image by Tom Fisk by Pexels.

Raine Island excites plenty of conservationists – it has been a focal point for conservation efforts due to its significance for green turtles. Efforts include habitat restoration, improving nesting success, and addressing threats like rising sea levels and predation.

Ecological Importance of the Island

Remote Island. Image via Pexels.

Despite the fact that Raine Island is significantly small, its ecosystem still plays a crucial role in supporting the diverse marine life which contributes to the overall health of the Great Barrier Reef. The island is a key research site for studying sea turtle biology, behavior, and conservation.

Turtle Nesting Density

Turtles on Raine Island. Photo by Kenneth Hawes via Pexels.

The tiny island hosts tens of thousands of nests annually, making it one of the densest nesting sites in the world for green turtles. Other islands are located in Indonesia, Costa Rica, and Ecuador.

Nesting Season

Young leatherback turtles. Image by Jolo Diaz via Pexels.

Nesting season ranges over a period of six months. Green sea turtles primarily nest on Raine Island from October to March. Peak nesting typically occurs from December to January.

Which turtles are found on the island?

sea turtle
Green Sea Turtle. Image via Depositphotos

Raine Island plays a crucial role in the survival of green sea turtles. Although green sea turtles are the most prevalent, other species like hawksbill and loggerhead turtles may also be seen. Protecting this island and its surrounding waters helps ensure the continued existence of one of the world’s most significant sea turtle populations.

Green Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtle
Green Sea Turtle grazing seagrass in Akumal bay. By P.Lindgren – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Named for the green color of their body fat, they have a smooth, heart-shaped shell that is olive to dark brown with swirls of lighter colors. Adults typically range from 1.2 to 1.5 meters (4 to 5 feet) in shell length.

Green Sea Turtle Habitat

Green Sea Turtle
Green Sea Turtle in its natural habitat. Image via Depositphotos.

Green Sea Turtles are generally found in tropical and subtropical waters. They prefer shallow waters such as lagoons, bays, and areas with seagrass beds. They feed on seagrasses and algae.

Hawksbill Turtles

Hawksbill Turtle. Image by Tom Fisk via Pexels.

Hawksbill turtles have a distinctive, overlapping scutes on their shell, which is amber-colored with streaks of brown or black. Their narrow head and beak-like mouth resemble a hawk’s beak. They are smaller than green turtles, with an average shell length of about 0.6 to 1 meter (2 to 3 feet).

Hawksbill Habitat

Hawksbill Turtle in its natural habitat. Image by Alex Azabache via Pexels.

Hawksbill Turtles live in tropical coral reefs and nest on remote beaches. They don’t nest as frequently as green sea turtles. Hawksbill females nest every 2-3 years. They mainly feed on sponges, invertebrates, algae, and sea anemones.

Loggerhead Turtles

Loggerhead Turtle. Imagy by Govinda Valbeuna via Pexels.

The Loggerhead Turtles have a large head with powerful jaws. Their shell is reddish-brown with a more rugged appearance. Their size is similar to that of green turtles, with shell lengths ranging from 0.8 to 1.1 meters (2.5 to 3.5 feet).

Loggerhead Turtle Habitat

Long head sea turtle
Image captured of a loggerhead sea turtle. Image via James St. John, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Loggerhead turtles are found in subtropical and temperate waters. They favor coastal habitats, including estuaries, bays, and shallow coastal waters. Females often return to their natal beaches to lay eggs and prefer wide, sandy beaches to nest.

Coral reefs

diving in coral reefs
Diving in the coral reef. Image via Depositphotos

Green sea turtles help to maintain healthy seagrass beds and coral reefs by grazing on seagrasses and algae which promotes growth and prevents overgrowth. Hawksbill turtles controls the sponge populations in the reefs. Loggerhead turtles play a role in marine ecosystems by controlling populations of their prey, such as crustaceans and mollusks.

Endangered Sea Turtles

Person holding a baby sea turtle. Image by Ludvig Hedenborg via Pexels.

Hawksbill, Loggerhead, and Green sea turtles are all endangered and appear on IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red list.

Protecting the Turtles

Man Rescues Beached Turtle. Image Generated by Alana Theron with DALL-E/Midjourney

Raine Island is a key research site for studying sea turtle biology, behavior, and conservation. There are numerous projects to stabilize the island’s shoreline and create more suitable nesting areas. Sand replenishment and vegetation management are strategies to improve the nesting success rate.

Protection Strategies

Conservationist at the ocean. Image by Muneeb Babar via Pexels.

Conservationists monitor turtle populations, nesting success, and hatchling survival rates to ensure that these species remain protected. Research on the impact of climate change on sea turtles as well as adaptive conservation strategies are also conducted by sea turtle experts.

How can you add to the protection of sea turtles?

Happy sea turtle. Image by kormandallas via Pixabay.

Anyone can help to make a difference towards protecting our marine animals. You can start by reducing the use of single use plastic. Support organizations such as the Sea Turtle Conservancy and WWF. You can promote the use of sustainable sea food by buying food with sustainable seafood certifications.

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