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More protection for vulnerable turtles in Great Barrier Reef

A_nesting_flatback_turtle_returning_to_the_sea_at_daybreak_on_Avoid_Island._Must_credit__Georgie_Braun1.JPG

A species of turtle only found on the Great Barrier Reef is getting extra protection with environmentalists restoring a small island off Mackay to be used as a nesting refuge.

About 100 kilometres south of Mackay, Avoid Island is a vital nesting site and habitat for flatback turtles, and will now be included in the Great Barrier Reef Foundation's 'Refuges of the Reef'.

The initiative has already seen restoration done at two sites in the Whitsundays and Bundaberg's Lady Elliot Island.

According to the foundation, Lady Elliot Island has already seen a 125 per cent increase in turtle numbers on the main nesting beach since the program began in 2018.

Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley says the success of the two initial projects has proved restoration and protection of ecosystems and threatened species is possible.

Both the Federal and Queensland Government are contributing a collective $8 million for the next phase.

“Avoid Island is the second largest Flatback Turtle rookery on the Great Barrier Reef and restoring nesting habitats there will greatly benefit this species,” Ms Ley says.

Visitors allowed

Avoid Island will also become a "hub of education" with future opportunities for visitors to help in protecting its ecosystems, birds, and marine life.

Queensland Trust for Nature Science and Education Manager Dr Renee Rossini says the island is an important tool for climate education.

“With the support of the Foundation, we will walk together to transition one of Queensland's only island Nature Refuges into a financially and environmentally sustainable hub of education, citizen science and climate adaptation,” Ms Rossini says.

[Image: Georgie Braun]