Baby turtles on the move

Runner Renee Rose found this baby turtle near Lake Joondalup recently.
Runner Renee Rose found this baby turtle near Lake Joondalup recently.

Enjoying her daily run, Joondalup’s Renee Rose found a tiny turtle near Lake Joondalup on August 9 and returned it to the water.

Wildlife officer Matt Swan said people might see adult and hatchling turtles at all times of the year across the south-west of WA, but most hatchlings were usually sighted in spring when they emerge from sandy nests of eggs.

‘A temporary detour from the new dual-use path in Yellagonga Regional Park will direct cyclists to a path along Edgewater Drive (during) peak egg-laying season and when hatchlings make their way to the water in the spring months,’ Mr Swan said.

‘The Friends of Yellagonga will monitor turtle activity and Parks and Wildlife will implement detours based on their advice.’

The wildlife officer said turtles lay up to 20 eggs at a time, which can take up to 270 days to hatch, depending on climatic conditions.

He said as ectotherms, turtles relied on the external environment to regulate their body temperature and metabolism.

‘On hot days, it is common to see them in fresh water around jetties and boardwalks and on cold days to see them on branches sunning themselves,’ he said.

‘They also roam around wetlands during the nesting season, which is typically spring and summer, or when they are looking for new habitat.’

Mr Swan said it was best not to interfere with a hatchling, as it would be making its way back to the nearest wetland habitat.

‘Enjoy them in the wild; it is not uncommon to find a turtle 5km from water, searching for a nesting site,’ he said.

‘However, if the hatchling is under threat from cats, dogs or vehicles, they can be picked up and released into the nearest wetland.’ The Wildlife helpline number is 9474 9055.