Safeguarding the Sea Turtles at Dunes Harbour Beach

20 August 2023

Harbour Beach is a pristine nesting ground for sea turtles, renowned for its low-density environmental conditions. To protect and preserve this vital habitat, Dunes has implemented a comprehensive Turtle Management Plan to ensure these wonderful creatures aren’t disturbed and can continue to populate and grow their species well into the future.

Working alongside the Department of Environment & Energy and Mackay Regional Council, we have established a range of protection measures and design guidelines to minimise disruption to the Harbour Beach sea turtle population. These include:

Sustainable building practices

Over 35% of the community is committed to open space, conservation, and parkland, to ensure Dunes remains a pristine destination for years to come. This includes intentionally setting Dunes back approximately 85-100 metres from Harbour Beach, to establish an environmental reserve buffer. This buffer zone will be protected, rehabilitated, and maintained to function as a natural dune corridor. The corridor will provide an undisturbed nesting area for sea turtles, allowing them to continue their natural reproductive cycle without interference.

Lighting controls

Given sea turtles prefer low light to nest, measures have been taken to prevent light spill over to beach areas, which can disorient nesting turtles and their hatchlings. Dim lighting creates a less stressful environment for them to lay their eggs and minimises the risk of attracting predators. Dunes has developed a lighting plan, to minimise disruption during the turtle nesting season from November to March. Some lights will be turned off during this time and others adjusted to emit the least disruptive colour. This also includes home owners adopting window treatments  to further reduce light pollution.

Waste management

Waste management, and the protection of natural vegetation are all taken into consideration. A major threat to turtle survival is the ingestion of synthetic materials as well as pollution from septic systems, and pet feces. There is a high level of care taken in the disposal of materials as construction continues at Dunes.These are then removed from site and disposed of in line with Mackay Regional Council’s guidelines. At a smaller scale, we also have bins positioned along entry points to the beach for locals to correctly dispose of the rubbish so that it doesn’t negatively effect the turtles.

Education is incredibly important in knowing how to best help keep turtle habitats safe. The Mackay and District Turtle Watch Association is a wonderful volunteer led organisation that focuses on research and education of the turtles habitats in and around Mackay. For more information on what you can do to help or just to learn more head to

Image courtesy of: @mackayturtlewatch via Facebook

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