April 3 - 9, 2022: Issue 533


Pittwater's Turtles Impacted By Boat Strikes In The Pittwater Estuary: 4 Knots Speed Limit/Distance To Shore Being Ignored 

Image:  Green Sea Turtle grazing seagrass at Akumal bay. photo by P. Lindgren
An offshore resident has reported seeing an injured green turtle between Elvina and Lovett Bays on March 28th, its carapace clearly injured by a boat strike, while at the same time being a witness to boats speeding in the area and too close to the shoreline, where these turtles are seen. Due to not being a registered wildlife rescuer the person could not legally rescue the turtle but has been inspired to do their reptile course with WIRES. 

If anyone spots it in the meantime please contact Sydney Wildlife: 9413 4300,  WIRES: 1300 094 737, Australian Seabird & Turtle Rescue Central Coast - ASTR Central Coast Rescue Line; 0438 862 676.

This is one of a few turtles that have been seen in Pittwater lately, the victims of boat strikes or discarded fishing tackle, and an indication we all need to stick to the regulations to keep wildlife and each other safe. Turtles are seen throughout the estuary at all times of the year.

The speed limit for the General Pittwater area is 8 knots. In the Pittwater (Currawong Beach - Coasters Retreat - Bayview - McCarrs Creek) Area it is 4 knots.

In NSW regulations for Powered vessels – including PWC – travelling at a speed of 6 knots or more must keep a minimum distance of 30m from:
  • other vessels – including when these vessels are moored or at anchor
  • structures – including jetties, bridges and navigation markers
  • the shore.
When you're driving a PWC, you must not drive in an irregular manner when:
  • you're within 200m of shore within a PWC restriction Zone, or
  • you're within 200m of shore in all waterways, when one or more dwellings are visible from the water and located within 200m of shore.
The operator of a vessel must not produce wash that causes unreasonable damage or impact to:
  • Any dredge or floating plant
  • Any construction or other works in progress
  • Any bank, shore or waterside structure
  • Any other vessel, including a vessel that’s moored.
In the event this rule is not adhered to, penalties apply.

Distance from Marine Life
You must also keep minimum distances from whales, dolphins and other marine life.

Whales, dolphins and dugongs
Powerboats, sailing boats and paddlecraft must keep a minimum distance from whales of:
  • 100m, or
  • 300m if there are calves.
You must travel at a constant slow speed and leave minimal wash within 300m of whales.

You must keep a minimum distance from dolphins and dugongs of:
  • 50m, or
  • 150m if there are calves.
You must travel at a constant slow speed and leave minimal wash within 150m of dolphins and dugongs.

If you're driving a personal watercraft (PWC), you must keep a minimum distance of 300m from whales, dolphins and dugongs. PWC can make fast and erratic movements and less noise underwater than other vessels. This means PWC are more likely to collide with a marine mammal.

If there are predominantly white whales, all vessels, including PWC, must keep a distance of 500m.

Seals and sea lions
All vessels, including PWC, must keep a minimum distance from seals and sea lions of:
  • 40m, or
  • 80m if there are pups.
Speed limits on the Pittwater Estuary
In the Pittwater (Currawong Beach - Coasters Retreat) Area - The navigable waters of that part of Currawong Beach and Coasters Retreat west and south of lines commencing from a point on the southern shore of Sinclair Point in a generally south westerly direction one hundred and twenty (120) metres parallel to the shoreline to a point approximately three hundred and twenty (320) metres south of the Currawong Beach Jetty thence in a south easterly direction to the north eastern extremity of Bennetts Wharf Coasters Retreat – four knots.

Pittwater (Bayview) Area – The whole of the navigable waters at the head of Pittwater generally south east of a line commencing from the north western corner of the northernmost marina jetty of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club premises at Green Point, in a south westerly direction across the waterway to the north western extremity of the Bayview Public Wharf – four knots.

Pittwater (McCarrs Creek) Area – The whole of the navigable waters of McCarrs Creek upstream of a line across the waterway commencing at a point on the shore one hundred and thirty five (135) metres west of the northernmost extremity of Church Point in a north westerly direction across McCarrs Creek to a point on the northern shore one hundred and twenty (120) metres south west of the easternmost extremity of the unnamed point on the southern shore of Elvina Bay – four knots.

Pittwater (General) Area – The navigable waters of and or adjoining Careel Bay, Paradise Beach, Clareville Beach, Long Beach, Refuge Cove, Salt Pan Cove, Horseshoe Cove, Bayview, Church Point and Elvina Bay, enclosed by the following direct lines: commencing at a point on the southern shore of Careel Bay two hundred (200) metres east of the Careel Bay Public Wharf in a generally north northwesterly direction for one thousand one hundred (1100) metres to a point currently occupied by a special navigation aid numbered 051, thence in a generally south westerly direction for approximately six hundred (600) metres to the northern extremity of Stokes Point, thence to the north-western extremity of Taylors Point, thence in a generally southerly direction for one thousand four hundred (1400) metres to a point adjacent to Holmes Reef approximately two hundred (200) metres west of Salt Pan Point, thence in a generally southerly direction for five hundred and twenty five (525) metres to a point adjacent the Royal Motor Yacht Club breakwater refuelling facility, thence in a generally south westerly direction across the waterway for four hundred (400) metres, thence in a generally north westerly direction for one thousand seven hundred and fifty (1750) metres to a point approximately one hundred (100) metres north of Church Point, thence to the eastern extremity of the unnamed point on the southern side of Elvina Bay and thence to the south eastern extremity of Rocky Point on the northern shore of Elvina Bay, excluding that area generally south east of a line commencing from the north western corner of the northernmost marina jetty of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club premises at Green Point, in a south westerly direction across the waterway to the north western extremity of the Bayview Public Wharf and that area generally south west of a line commencing at a point on the shore one hundred and thirty five (135) metres west of the northernmost extremity of Church Point in a north westerly direction across McCarrs Creek to a point on the northern shore one hundred and twenty (120) metres south west of the easternmost extremity of the unnamed point on the southern side of Elvina Bay – eight knots.


Pittwater - inshore indicator off Bayview

In Pittwater there are both freshwater turtles in wetlands such as Warriewood and saltwater turtles that swim off our coasts and in our estuary and around the mouth of the Hawkesbury Rver or between the Lion Island Barrenjoey Headland area. 

New South Wales is home to 7 species of native freshwater turtle, two of which are found nowhere else. Australia is home to about 23 species of freshwater turtle. All but one of these species belong to the family Chelidae, which is found only in Australasia and South America. These ‘side-necked’ turtles retract their head and neck beneath their shell by folding it to one side, rather than drawing their head backwards as most of the world’s species of turtles and tortoises do.

Of the seven species of marine turtles in the world, six occur in Australian waters:
  • Flatback turtle (Natator depressus)
  • Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
  • Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
  • Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
  • Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)
  • Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)
Northern NSW beaches are becoming increasingly recognised for critical habitat for 2 threatened marine turtle species:
  • the vulnerable green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
  • the endangered loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)
NSW beaches offer climate refugia (a location where a population can survive) as well as stretches of remote beaches where threats from visitation and development may be lessened, improving nesting success, hatchling emergence rates and survivability.

In NSW, freshwater and saltwater turtles face many threats. 

On land, introduced foxes and pigs rob their nests and in some areas consume over 90% of their eggs. The baby turtles that hatch from the few remaining eggs have to contend with turtle-eating fish, birds and other predators. Adult turtles are protected by their shells from most natural predators when they are in the water, apart from careless/speeding boaties, but when they venture onto land they can be killed by dogs, foxes or pigs, or crushed by motor vehicles.

Artificial light at night can have negative impacts on many animals. For marine turtles, artificial light leads to disorientation, reducing the number of successful nesting attempts and causing hatchling mortality. In New South Wales we have little data around the type of light conditions marine animals experience on our beaches. Citizen scientists though the state government's Saving Our Species program will build this data by measuring light pollution at our beaches and nesting sites, creating a light profile for each beach over different astral and cloud conditions, to assess and manage this threat.

Turtles are often drowned in illegal fishing nets or killed by fishers who become annoyed at catching a turtle instead of a fish on their hook.

In June 2021 Living Ocean volunteers had the sad duty of removing a deceased large green turtle from a Pittwater estuarine beach. Although the members were unable to find anyone that would perform a necropsy there was evidence on the turtle itself of what could have caused its death.

A major cause of this turtle (a large and perhaps old one) would seem to be the fishing line wrapped around both forward flipper bases and stretched across its neck. It had obviously been this way for a long time as it had 'grown' into one flipper which was severely constricted and swollen. There was evidence of a possible boat strike at some time as well as a section of its rear shell was missing.

Living Ocean members state:
''Its time we came up with some sort of answer to the entire fishing line debacle. Perhaps a new product that dissolves in salt water over a realistic short time. Most fishing line is point of use time frame, so a chemical solution to lost line dissolving would not be an issue.

At a recent Shark Symposium we also heard about the development of fish hooks that dissolve, as many sharks ingest or have hooks stuck in their mouths. Again, no need to have hooks that remain in a threat form when lost at sea.''

Photo: Living Ocean, June 21, 2021

All marine turtle species are experiencing serious threats to their survival, all due to human impacts. The main threats are pollution and changes to important turtle habitats, especially coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests and nesting beaches. One of the most significant threats now comes from bycatch. Freshwater and saltwater turtles are threatened by such things as:
  • plastic bags and other waste, which the turtles mistake for jellyfish
  • cigarette butts
  • fishing lines and hooks
  • boat and propeller collisions
  • entanglement and drowning in nets, ropes, floats or traps
  • habitat destruction 
  • poor water quality and seagrass depletion
  • deliberate acts of cruelty
  • disease
How you can help
It's easy to help protect freshwater turtles. Here are a few simple things you can do:
  • appropriately dispose of your rubbish
  • collect litter on or near the waterways
  • when boating, travel slowly over seagrass beds
  • report people engaging in illegal netting or trapping
  • help in coastal health projects (e.g. seagrass monitoring)
  • join your local animal rescue and care group
  • report sick or injured turtles to your local NPWS office.
Protection in NSW
Under NSW law it is an offence to harm native turtles and heavy penalties apply. If you suspect that someone has unlawfully harmed a turtle of other native animal, please report it to the Environment Line (131 555). Please report suspected illegal fishing nets to the nearest Fisheries Office or the Fishers Watch Phoneline (1800 043 536).

Old newspapers are threaded with old accounts of people finding or even bringing turtles to Pittwater. A few instances include George Brock of The Oaks at Mona Vale deciding turtles a captain had brought to him in 1905 may do well in the estuary, as seen in:

AN INNOVATION.— Some time ago Captain A. Barron of the s.s. Upolu brought two good-sized edible turtles to Sydney from the South Pacific.
He has since brought over some younger specimens, which 'were hatched out on the boats, last trip, in sand. Some of the turtles were given to Mr. G. Brock, of  'The Oaks,' Pittwater These two large ones have become quite tame — too tame for some of the bathers whose toes they try to sample— in the Pittwater bathing enclosure. Mr. H. C. Danevig has also received some turtles' from Captain Barron. - It is hoped that the turtles will do well. FISHING RESORTS. (1905, January 22). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article125860145 

During the last cruise of the steamer Upolu is the islands, the first and second mates secured a number of Turtles' eggs. Many of these were kept in sand on the vessel, and hatched out during the voyage to Sydney. About 50 of the young edible turtles were taken to Pittwater and given to Mr. G. S. Brock, while five were kept in seawater at Bronte, at the residence of Mr. F. Gilbert. The 50 died, although kept in a tub of salt water and daily supplied with food and fresh lots of the Newport water. In a bathing enclosure belonging to Mr. Brock near by two large turtles brought from the islands some months ago sport happily, and come to be fed daily. The five from Bronte were taken to Newport by Captain A. Barron, master of the Upolu, last Friday, where more complete preparations have been made for the care of the small specimens. THE STATE IN LONDON. (1905, January 24). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14703496

The Navigator, the Printer, and the Journalist, all members of the Amateur Fishermen's Association, had a memorable trip last Friday to 'The Oaks,' Newport; the well-known beautiful residence of Mr. G. S. Brock. The Navigator (Capt. A. Barron, of the s.s. Upolu) took five young edible turtles to the coastal beauty spot, and the other two went with him at Mr. Brock's Invitation. 

The little turtles were 'all a-growin' and a-blowin' ' in a billy full of sea water. They were some that had been hatched out in sand on board the vessel after being taken from their nests in the Island beaches. The little chaps flapped about comfortably on one's hand and bit at the finger pushed at their noses. Pulling one out of the billy in the packed coach the ladies inside were enabled to Inspect the curious little fellow. 'Where did you get them?’ was the natural query, but the Navigator's reply, that he had hatched then himself, was greeted with disbelief by the lady passengers. Presently, after being assured by the Journalist, who Is reputed to have the least honest face of the three, that the statement was correct, an elderly lady with a twinkle In her eye said she had a clutch of Orpington eggs at home that the hen had left, and that the Navigator might sit on them If he liked. Quoth the Printer at that stage : 'The only clutch- you could safely put him on would have to be a china set.' The Navigator, It should be parentheically observed, weighs nearly 13st. One of the Iadies thought It would be a good idea. 'Mother,' she said, 'we might get a new china dinner set that way.' 

Amid much merriment the trio travelled to Rock Lily, and, resisting an Inclination on the part of the Printer to inspect the paintings in some of the private rooms, journeyed to 'The Oaks.' Their subsequent adventures would fill a sizable volume. The host, gave them a 'day in the country,' and finally mounted the three inexperienced riders on polo ponies for a trip round the estate and thence to Pittwater. The results of that ride remain with the party yet. The Navigator had to eat his meals next day off the mantelpiece, and the Printer and the Journalist sat clown very steadily whenever they had to sit during Saturday. 

After a sail down to Newport Arm in Mr. Brock's speedy yacht, The Dolphin, the yacht rescued a party of ladies in an open boat from dying for want of afternoon tea and took them for a cruise down to The Basin and back. 

George's 'Dolphin' on Pittwater, circa 1906 - photo courtesy Dodds family

'Brock's'  1907, showing what would become the Barrenjoey Road.

The wind left the yacht on the way home, and it was 8.30 p.m. before the quartette got back to the horses. After accomplishing a perilous ride back to 'The Oaks,' some musical contributions from talented members of Mr. Brock's family whiled away a half-hour, and the party left to catch a supposed 10.30 p.m. boat from Manly. The boat, however, left at 10.15 p.m., so they were in good time for the next at 11.15 p.m. Recognising that 11.50 p.m. at the Quay was too late to allow of a cab catching the midnight train, the Journalist pretended he liked work, and went to the office that tolerates him to write leading articles until the 2.45 a.m. train for Strathfield should start. The other two took a cab and chanced it. Naturally they missed the train by two or three minutes. The Navigator lived at Summer Hill and the Printer at Croydon, so they held a united prayer meeting and set out in the cab with a city driver, who knew not the suburbs. The sailor-man reached home about ono o'clock, but the Printer had most alarming adventures, being driven away up near Homebush Instead of Croydon. He got home about 3 a.m. The Journalist, being an old 'dog for a hard road, and knowing the ropes, so to speak, travelled in one of the all-night trams to Redfern, had a coffee and 'saveloy and mashed' at the coffee stall, and reached home at 3.15 a.m. Now if anyone wants to hear language he has only to Invite the three to tell the narrative of their day at 'The Oaks.' 

THE OLD NIMROD CLUB.— An interesting excerpt from the 'Herald' of January, 1876 : — 'The Nimrod Club.— The usual monthly fishing excursion took place yesterday. The steamer Mystery took the members to the various grounds about Long Reef, but none of them seemed to have as many fish as generally at this period' of the year. The wide ground off the south-east point proved the best. The total take, including two immense jewfish weighing about 70lb each, was over 250. Mr. Eastway caught the first fish, and got a leg-ln for Mr. Thorne's trophy, and Mr. Salomon took first prize for the first schnapper weighing over 2lb.' 
A GOOD HAUL OF JEWFISH.— A party of three fishing under the Hawkesbury Bridge on the top of the tide recently caught half a boat load of jewfish running from 4lb to 10lb weight. The fish took prawn baits, and were expeditiously handled on silk twists. The total catch went over 2cwt., : but this is often beaten by professionals of the river when they strike the fish good up near Milson's Island. 
WHERE TO GO FOR SPORT TO-DAY.— Places worth trying for black bream to-day, and available for a day's trip near .Sydney, are : The Green Flats, Kurnell, Jibbon (Port Hacking, southern head), Hawkesbury River, and Woy Woy. Places for flathead fishing are the drifts near Woy Woy, Point Clare, and Gosford (all in Brisbane Water)' : for flathead, after mooring the boat, the Hawkesbury should be the best place ; for red bream, a try might be made from Newport down about three miles to the point of Careel Bay ; for schnapper, a trip out from Long Bay, La Perouse, and the Mermaid's Basin near Rock Lily (Manly) should result In good hauls not far from the shore if the wind is not too strong. 
FISHING. (1905, January 25). Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 - 1939), p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120495249 

It is well-known amongst mariners running from Australia to the South Seas that turtles can be hatched out in sand aboard ship. Mr. G. S. Brock, of Rock Lily, between Manly and Pittwater, had several baby turtles given to him last year, all of which had been hatched on the steamer Upolu. The queer little fellows were kept in tins of sea water when they hatched out, and were conveyed in a 'billy' to Mr. Brock's residence. They were promptly conveyed to Pittwater, and placed in a tub of sea water but no resting place was provided for them, and they had to keep swimming all the while. Mr. Brock had one island turtle of substantial size in a large swimming bath, possessing a tidal entrance and exit and the young ones would have probably done better there, as the place has a little beach. The turtle is an interesting pet, but rather uncomfortable companion in a swimming bath as its curiosity is equal to its fearlessness. NATURE STUDIES. (1906, August 22). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 467. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article163682856 

Other local instances of a turtle being potentially killed for food shows up in:

Last Sunday a turtle weighing upwards of 600 weight was taken by some fishermen at Broken Bay with a shark hook, introduced by accident into the eye. The same evening it was brought in, and retailed at 6d. per pound. SYDNEY. (1805, December 8). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article626980


TURTLE, who took the wrong turning, and turned up yesterday at Pittwater. He was caught by Messrs; E. Wilson and W. Dunn. Turtle soup? 'PLANE TO TRAVEL AT 650 M.P.H !--SEEK JAG REP. TENNIS TEAM--POOR OLD TURTLE! (1930, November 13). Daily Pictorial (Sydney, NSW : 1930 - 1931), p. 12. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article246195104 

Settlers on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, near Windsor, have, been making profitable returns out of turtles during the past few weeks. The small species are greatly in demand by Chinese at 1/' eachThe river is literally alive with them. SIFTINGS. (1931, January 30). The Kyogle Examiner (NSW : 1912; 1914 - 1915; 1917 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article234724418 

Fortunately the tide turned, no pun intended, against this reckless treatment of local turtles and any threats to them were met with an outcry from locals:

Caught in Broken Bay.

Strong protests have been entered by residents of the Palm Beach district, yachtsmen, fishermen, and naturalists against the action of a party of fishermen in catching a big black turtle off Lion Island, Broken Bay, this week.

The turtle, which weighed about a ton, was of a great age, and had frequented the waters of Broken Bay as far back as the memory of some of the oldest residents of the district. It was a familiar object to yachtsmen and fishermen visiting the locality over many years.

A resident of Palm Beach stated last night that people living in the district had regarded the turtle as an old friend, and they were incensed when they learned that it had been caught with a rope, hauled ashore, and shot.

A veteran yachtsman said he had been visiting Broken Bay for more than 50 years, and during that period he had often seen the turtle. It was almost tame, and never did any harm. Sometimes it was mistaken for an overturned skiff. He was particularly sorry to learn that it had been caught.

The honorary secretary of the Palm Beach Surf Life-saving Club, Mr. J. G. Rohr, said he had been directed by his club to express in the strongest terms disapproval of the action of the fishing party which caught the turtle. In doing so, he thought he was voicing a feeling of resentment which much be very general among those who were acquainted with the waters of Broken Bay. 

The old turtle was, as far as was known, the only specimen of its kind in the area, and possibly it was one of the few survivors on this section of the Australian coast. It was a familiar and welcome sight to members of the club and to yachtsmen and boating people who visited Pittwater. "So frequently had our members met with the old warrior when bringing the surf boat around Barrenjoey, that most of us felt that we were almost on speaking terms with him," he added.

The secretary of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Mr. S. A. Lord) said he would institute an inquiry into the matter.

Mr. T. C. Roughley, economic zoologist at the Technological Museum, said he joined in the protest against the catching of the turtle. Its capture could serve no purpose: it seemed to him futile, and cruel. It was obvious from the weight of the turtle that it was of a great age, as the rate of growth among turtles was slow. AGED TURTLE (1936, March 14). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 17. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17341700 

This description of a 'black' turtle in a marine environment sounds as though this was a leatherback turtle - which nowadays are getting caught in shark nets off our shores. Another was found caught in the one at Newport on March 26, 2022. In Issue 532 Pittwater Online reported:

Turtle Saved At Newport

March 26, 2022

Good news; on a rainy morning with lifesavers successfully freeing a giant LeatherbackTurtle from the nets at Newport Beach. Weighing between 300-400kg, the IRB crew said the distressed animal was as wide as the boat itself. Supervising the rescue, a Sea Life Sydney Aquarium marine biologist said the animal would not have survived if it wasn’t for the actions of the patrol team.

This is the second large leatherback caught in the Newport net in recent years, with one cut free in 2019.

Leatherback Turtles are listed as Endangered throughout Australia.

The largest living turtle is the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), reaching a maximum total length of 3 m (9.8 ft) and a weight of 932 kg (2,055 lb). A leatherback sea turtle that washed up on a beach in Wales in the UK in 1988 was the largest sea turtle ever recorded at a massive 2,019 pounds and was estimated to be around 100 years old. Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 lists D. coriacea as vulnerable, while New South Wales  lists it as endangered.

Light pollution is a serious threat to sea turtle hatchlings which have a strong attraction to light. Human-generated light from streetlights and buildings causes hatchlings to become disoriented, crawling toward the light and away from the beach. Hatchlings are attracted to light because the lightest area on a natural beach is the horizon over the ocean, the darkest area is the dunes or forest. On Florida's Atlantic coast, some beaches with high turtle nesting density have lost thousands of hatchlings due to artificial light.

Many turtles die from malabsorption and intestinal blockage following the ingestion of balloons and plastic bags which resemble their jellyfish prey. Balloons cause serious issues for our marine reptiles and seabirds. When helium balloons are released, they burst, fall into our oceans and resemble food for these animals. Unfortunately, balloons can easily become trapped in the digestive system resulting in death. There is currently a petition for NSW to follow other states and ban the release of helium balloons. If you have a spare moment please sign the petition below. Closes April 25, 2022:


Size of leatherback compared to human. Photo: Steve Garvie from Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland 

The shark nets installed off our beaches create high incidences of turtle mortality. 

The DPI Shark Meshing 2018/19 Performance Report showed the nets were catching turtles, not sharks, with 395 marine animals caught in the SMP during the 2018/19 meshing season, comprised of 23 target sharks and 372 non-target animals. The records state that 238 of those 395 died before they could be released. Among them are species that are endangered or have 'protected' status and through the SMP's report tripped 'trigger points'; -

2018-19: The trigger point for the objective of ‘Minimise the impact on non-target species and to ensure that the SMP does not jeopardise the survival or conservation status of threatened species’ was tripped for three species during 2018/19 following the entanglement of six Loggerhead Turtles, four Leatherback Sea Turtles, four Hawksbill Turtles, and eighty-seven Smooth Hammerheads. 

Of those four Leatherback Sea Turtles, two died in nets off our beaches at Palm Beach and one was released from the nets at Newport. Readers may recall a report from March 2019 in which the great work of Newport SLSC Life Savers in disentangling an adult Leatherback stopped it from dying. This Leatherback also shows evidence of a boat strike on its carapace:

The Leatherback Turtle saved by Newport SLSC members

Both of the two that died in the Palm Beach net were male, one measuring 1.99 Metres and the other 1.73 Metres. One of the Hawksbill Turtles listed among the triggers died from being entangled in the net at Narrabeen, while North Narrabeen and Warriewood nets caught and killed a Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, each.

The NSW DPI's Shark Meshing 2019/20 Performance Report records 10 marine reptiles were caught in the nets comprised of: 8 Green Turtles; a Loggerhead Turtle; and an unidentified turtle. Two green turtles were found dead during the 2019/20 SMP - both at Narrabeen.

The DPI NSW Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program 2020/21 Annual Performance Report report shows a total of 375 marine animals were caught in the SMP during the 2020/21 meshing season, comprised of 40 target sharks and 335 non-target species. Of this 375 marine animals 144 (38%) were released alive, the other 231 (62%) were dead. There were 18 marine reptiles comprised of: 8 Green Turtles; 5 Loggerhead Turtles; 2 Leatherback Turtles; 2 Hawksbill Turtles; and an Olive Ridley Turtle, 9 marine mammals comprised of: 5 Common Dolphins, 2 Humpback Whales; an Australian Fur Seal; and an unidentified dolphin species. Of the turtles; 8 Green Turtles (8 dead), 5 Loggerhead Turtles (5 released alive), 2 Leatherback Turtles (2 dead), 2 Hawksbill Turtles (1 dead, 1 released alive), 1 Olive Ridley Turtle (dead).

Although the contractors  are required to check their set nets every 72 hours, weather permitting, 72 hours is a long time to hold your breath if you are a turtle caught in one of these nets.

For these and many other obvious reasons, it would be GREAT if locals stuck to the speed limits and from shore limits when out boating. These ancient animals have been here for a long time and our respect for and care of them is inherent in either living or visiting here. Clearly their songlines, and songs, are part of here and have been for long before human 'impacts' came along:


This aboriginal carving, which is of unique interest, is described in the neighbouring article. LONE TURTLE OF PITTWATER. (1940, January 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17653541 

The 'neighbouring article':

Turtle "Scoop."
By Ella Mcfadyen.

Here and there among the carvings the Australian blacks have left behind them, we find one that is neither a tribal record nor the tale of a hunting, but simply the work of a black reporter recording an item of Stone Age news.

Years ago, near Somersby Falls, Gosford district I saw a rock in an orchard. It was clearly incised with a good impression of the head and forepart of a seal above a wavy line that is exactly the same convention that we use for a sea line in our cartoons. Below this line the artist fumbled for a form and vaguely suggested hindquarters like those of a bear. This could not be other than a report of a seal seen, but not captured off the coast of Broken Bay. Seals do visit these parts at rare intervals and Woy Woy fishermen have twice made captures of them. The blacks had carried away a very good eye picture of the creature.

The decision of the military authorities not to pursue the making of a road right out to West Head may happily preserve another news time of long ago. I only came on this carving of a turtle recently, though I have trod the track near it often. It is a large turtle as the hat photographed beside it shows, and the weathering of the rock shows that it was made many years ago. I had to fill the faint grooves with white sand to secure a picture. Turtles are not native to Pittwater but one old and very large turtle was known to Pittwater yachtsmen for about 50 years, and survived until very recently, when-alas! -the interesting old sea wanderer was brutally slaughtered by a party of holiday makers.

Thanks to the unknown reporter whose "special edition" probably came out long before Sydney's first paper was printed we have this record of Pittwater's lone turtle, the destruction of which has been deplored by all nature-lovers. STONE AGE NEWS. (1940, January 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17653507 

In closing, while collating this report, devastating news comes from across the Broken Bay 'pond':

Australian Seabird & Turtle Rescue Central Coast - ASTR Central Coast Rescue Line: 0438 862 676

April 1, 2022: Another large deceased leatherback sea turtle has washed up onto our beaches this morning. This is the second leatherback within 48 hours, the third in a week.  National Parks has been contacted and will coordinate testing and removal of the animal. National Parks collected the specimen from Avoca Wednesday and are awaiting test and necropsy results. It is quite rare for us to have a leatherback turtle wash up onto beaches in our region, devastating to have 3 in one week. We currently have large swells impacting our coastline, if you come across any marine reptiles or seabirds, please give us a call.

Photo/flyer: Australian Seabird & Turtle Rescue Central Coast

Photo: Sea Turtle caught in a  Net.

''Turtle spotting in Pittwater''. Photo: Janet Forrester/Protect Pittwater