14.3 C
Byron Shire
April 25, 2024

Dune degradation threatens turtles

Latest News

Blockades continue as councillors wave next Wallum certificate through

A second subdivision works certificate for the Wallum estate was signed off by a majority of councillors last week, who again argued that they have no legal standing to further impede an approved development.

Other News

Tweed Shire asking for input on sporting needs

Tweed Shire Council’s (TSC) draft Sport and Active Recreation Strategy 2023-2033 is open for public comment. The strategy will provide...

Cockroach climate

The cockroaches in the Byron Council offices are experiencing bright daylight at night. They are trying to determine whether...

Sweet and sour doughnuts

Victoria Cosford ‘It’s probably a good thing I don’t have a sweet tooth,’ says Megan. I’ve called in at the pop-up...

Not enough letters like this about Gaza in The Echo?

The Echo’s studied indifference to the plight of the Palestinians and its reluctance to publish letters on the subject...

Funds sought to complete clubhouse

Byron Bay Football Club may finally get the funds to complete its new clubhouse, with Byron councillors to consider loaning the club $200,000 at this week’s meeting.

Deadly fire ants found in Murray-Darling Basin

The Invasive Species Council has expressed serious concern following the detection of multiple new fire ant nests at Oakey, 29 km west of Toowoomba in Queensland.

Last week’s sighting of turtle tracks on Clarkes Beach prompted a few questions from concerned readers. Are sandbags on our eroding beaches a threat to nesting turtles?

Sandbags themselves aren’t the problem, says Katie West from NSW TurtleWatch.

‘There’s no dune system there for her to lay her eggs in,’ said Ms West about Clarkes Beach. ‘It’s more the profile of that beach, rather than those particular sandbags.’

Turtle tracks on Clarkes Beach. Photo Rob Asquith.

More concerning are long term issues of climate change and development that degrade the sand dune systems turtles need.

‘You can paint the bigger picture, which is coastal erosion and these big storm surges and things like that are changing our coastline all the time, and that has an impact on our nesting turtles,’ said Ms West.

‘As we build our houses and things closer to the water, we do start to affect those dune systems.’

Duncan Dey, who is an environmental engineer and mayoral candidate for September’s local government elections, said creeping development and redistributing sand at the beach was a perennial issue.

‘First a tent, then a beach hut, then a fisherman’s hut, then it’s a McMansion,’ Mr Dey said.

‘The ocean is rising, don’t put anyone anywhere near the beach.’

Mr Dey said that in his previous time on council, ‘I don’t recall any of the debate ever going around, oh, what can we do to save the turtles’.

But with climate change set to bring more turtles to our beaches, turtle nesting habitat is an increasing concern for beachside development applications.

In response to questions about how turtles are taken into account when considering DAs, Byron Shire Council said in a statement: ‘For development in proximity to marine turtle nesting habitat, the proposal would need to demonstrate direct impacts to the habitat will be avoided – for example, by incorporating an appropriate setback distance between the habitat and the development footprint’.

‘The proposal would also need to demonstrate that indirect impacts will be avoided and/or minimised. In the context of marine turtles, this would likely involve a consent condition that regulates the potential impacts of artificial lighting which is known to repel nesting females and interfere with the orientation of hatchlings in some species.

‘Consent conditions have been included on previous DAs in proximity to marine turtle nesting habitat to ensure that artificial lighting is controlled according to current knowledge, including by requiring that it:

  • is directed away from the habitat
  • is installed as close as possible to the ground to minimise light spill and glow
  • is of the lowest intensity practicable
  • avoids the use of types of lighting that are known to have a greater impact on turtle behaviour (e.g., white LED, metal halide, white fluorescent).’

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Many years ago, I had the experience of staying on a manned lighthouse at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. The small island was a turtle nesting habitat, but when the babies hatched, the light at night distracted them from heading out to sea. Instead the hatchlings swarmed towards the light. We did our bit at the time catching bucketloads & turfing them out to sea. How many turtles since have been misdirected by our built coastal environment?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Ancient brewing tradition honoured

An annual event and brewing ritual to honour ancient brewing traditions was held at Stone & Wood’s Byron brewery last week.

New data reveals NSW social housing waitlist blowout

A fresh analysis by Homelessness NSW reveals where people are waiting the longest for social housing, sparking calls to double the supply of social homes and boost services funding.

Domestic violence service calls for urgent action to address crisis

Relationships Australia NSW is calling for urgent intervention from the NSW government to address men’s violence against women, following the horrific murder of Molly Ticehurst.

Menacing dog declaration revoked

After an emotional deputation from the owner of the dog involved, Ballina Shire Council has this morning revoked a menacing dog declaration for the kelpie Lilo, which was brought into effect following a bite in July 2022.