Turtle Eggs

seppings pp
Lake Seppings, nestled amongst suburbia and the coast.

We have had more turtle adventures. This afternoon in amongst birthday festivities we had two approach our house from the park. We were alerted to the first turtle by a vehicle stopping outside our house to make sure it crossed the road safely. At this point there was already a turtle up by our bins. Both got re-directed into sandy areas of the garden but to no real avail. They started heading back down hill. After a couple of attempts at keeping them out of harms way I ended up picking them up and putting them into the back of our yard where there is plenty of sand.

After an hour, and returning to the house from the park to retrieve a birthday cake, I saw one of the turtles making its way back down the path. I had a quick look up in the backyard and from her tracks it really didn’t look like she had wandered far at all. I saw marks in the sand that looked like the bottom of her shell and thought she may have laid eggs and tamped down the sand. I put a marker on the spot and returned to the party.

Eventually she was found crossing the grass and about 18 kindergarten kids were very excited to see a turtle – thanks to a parent at the party, the turtle was fast-tracked to the waters edge and let go without the stress that a hoard of kindy kids could produce.

After the party and in the quiet of the evening I examined the spot again and though the sand was very compact I was surprised to discover eggs about half a foot to a foot down in the sand. In my digging two were damaged and I retrieved a dozen which were carefully buried into a large box that I will probably ‘bury’ into the top of the garden so that the eggs can develop and hatch.

eggs pp
Sitting on the stair, tracks in the sand and the revealed clutch.

Though I could not seem to find where the turtle in our backyard the other day might have lay eggs there is always the possibility that they have chosen somewhere in the sand under the back verandah. If this is so, then they are relatively safe there and we shall just have to keep a look out under the house around the time they hatch. There are ways out from under the house though, so if they follow their ‘nose’ and head in a downward direction then I think they will be fine.

The Noongar peoples were skilled at finding turtle diggings and would retrieve a couple of eggs from each area they found, always leaving some to hatch and live on.

heading out pp
Finally, her eggs laid, she can return to the waters edge.

As I have previously posted, I really feel for these creatures not having safer, more readily accessible places to lay their eggs. This is a natural event that has probably been going on for millennia. Though, having lived in this area previously, this is the first time I have seen so much movement in the area.

Lake Seppings is called Tjuirtgellong in the Noongar language which translates to Place of the Long-Necked Tortoise.

3 thoughts on “Turtle Eggs

  1. This is so amazing that you and the little fellas can experience it all right there! As you said, going by the Noongar name – the lake must have been an important breeding place for them (the turtles 🙂 ) since forever… As development keeps encroaching, where will they lay their eggs if they can’t do it in your backyard?

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    1. Exactly. To the north and north west of the main lake there are small bush blocks and horse stables/paddocks, and some bushland. This is good egg laying ground I would think and easier to get to. To the east is the golf course skirted by bushland, but they need to cross a busy road and there are usually casualties. To the west is good ground too but it borders houses and is largely grassland and I would think too difficult to dig into so they have to go beyond the grass into the house blocks. For those that are southbound there are houses, grass and gardens. Many with retaining walls and roads to cross. So as well meaning as people are to return them to the pond, the turtles are just compelled to turn around and come back to get their eggs laid and it is prolonging the time it takes to make the journey and putting them at risk again.

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