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Endangered turtles get helping hand from USQ

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett and USQ researcher Christa Pudmenzky in the turtle nesting areas near Bundaberg
The chance of survival for turtle hatchlings along Queensland’s coastline is on a sharp decline as development encroaches on traditional breeding areas, but one University of Southern Queensland researcher is fighting to find a way to give the turtles a helping hand.

PhD student Christa Pudmenzky, who is based at USQ's Toowoomba campus, has been selected by Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett to undertake a project through the Queensland Parliamentary Internship Program.

Under the direction of Mr Bennett, Ms Pudmenzky will research turtle nesting habits at Mon Repos and surrounding areas, with a particular focus on the continued increase of new developments and therefore an increase in light pollution on nesting areas.

‘When turtles hatch from their eggs in the sand they are drawn to the brightest light on the horizon, normally the moon,’ Ms Pudmenzky explained.

‘But with development now close to the nesting areas the turtles are being confused by artificial lighting and unfortunately the mortality rate of hatchlings is on the rise.’

There is currently very limited legislation in place to protect turtles, so Ms Pudmenzky’s research will investigate possible legislative changes that could be made with the intention of preventing light pollution in areas frequented by nesting turtles.

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett MP said he was thrilled the research project was underway.

‘It is important we protect endangered sea turtles and this project will go a long way ensuring appropriate community engagement and strategic policy direction,’ Mr Bennett said.

‘I’d like to thank Ms Pudmenzky for her efforts and her interests in assisting us with her research in this area.’

Media Contact:

Jim Campbell, USQ Media, +617 4631 2977, jim.campbell@usq.edu.au

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