Association News

The Winter Edition of the newsletter is now available. Find stories inside on the 2018 turtle season wrap up, how some of our Eco-Discovery programs went, an amazing Blue Lagoon Charity event with Christopher Atkins, an engaging day doing a mock whale stranding day, a focus on some digital technology…and more.

Enjoy the rest of August and the cooler winter season. Once again, thank you to all of our supporters and volunteers who tirelessly give their time with Coolum & North Shore Coast Care to make our environment a better place.

To access the latest edition, click on the front page above or follow this link.

SUNSHINE COAST AIRPORT EXPANSION PROJECT 2018-2021

Ross Ullman, Project Director for the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion project, addressed the June CaNSCC management meeting about the project, focussing especially on the aspects that concern CaNSCC, ie the opening of the dune line to enable the pipeline to cross from the sea to the airport, the impact of dredging on marine life, especially turtles, the impact on the dunes of pipe construction before installation, and the rehabilitation of the dunes post-pipeline requirements.

 

THE NEED FOR A NEW RUNWAY

As Ross Ullman explained, there are several needs for a new runway. The current runway, constructed in 1961, was sufficient for aircraft existing then, but as aircraft have increased in size, weight and carrying capacity, the runway has reached its limit. In addition, aircraft pilots have to be certified every year so they can land and take off on such a short runway. The new runway will be about 700m longer and 15m wider than the current one, and capable of landing larger, heavier aircraft. It will also be higher and will bisect the current runway, so that only the northern half of the current runway will be accessible for landing and takeoff, limiting its use to small aircraft. The new runway will be aligned south-east/north-west, which is more closely aligned with prevailing winds than the current one, which often sees aircraft landing in strong crosswinds.

PRELIMINARY ACTIVITIES

Prior to any construction, background conditions were established for groundwater, involving the Queensland Dept of Environment and Science; acid sulphate soil cores were done to 3m, and about 4ha of Allocasuarina emuina and associated wallum plants were translocated within the grounds. The heath translocation looks to have worked so far, but the A. emuina trees have not done so well, partly because their root system was deeper than the machinery could access, and partly because the trees were inundated shortly after translocation. However, seeds were obtained from the plants before they were translocated, and the resulting seedlings will be planted as soon as possible.

DREDGING

Dredging is expected to take three months, starting in July 2018. To enable access from the Airport to the dredging vessel, a pipeline 700m long and 900mm diameter has been constructed on the beach adjacent to the northern tip of the airport. This pipeline is partly rigid steel, partly a lighter material. The lighter section will sink when not connected to the dredge, and the steel part will be bored under David Low Way and link up with the other steel section inside the Airport grounds. Some of the steel section will remain above the ground on the beach, with a sand bridge to enable movement by pedestrians and SLS vehicles along the beach. The closure of BA 111 is necessary for the pipeline connections to the Airport grounds. Pipeline construction, above the high tide line, will be monitored for any cultural artefacts.

Dredging will commence in early July, using a Dredging International vessel called The Nile River, which will dredge around 1.5 million m3 from the Spitfire Channel in Moreton Bay, doing three trips per day, carrying about 15,000 m3 of sand each trip, taking two hours to fill/empty the vessel each time. The Spitfire Channel realignment (by dredging) will enable ships to enter Moreton Bay without doing two hard turns on their way.

The timing of the dredging program has been made to fit in with the turtle nesting and hatching season, hence the need to have the dredging finished by October 31 this year. Other than sand, fill will be brought in from Moy Pocket and elsewhere on the Sunshine Coast.

OTHER ASPECTS

None of the Mt Coolum National Park has been resumed for the project; in fact, the NP has been enlarged by several hectares, as a swap for the bund wall area on the eastern boundary of the NP with DLW, on an approximate ration of 10 :1, or some cash in lieu of land. The wall along the DLW alignment will have to be augmented by a concrete wall up to 400mm, which would then protect Marcoola, and would raise the flood level within the NP by 20-30mms, and on the airport site by 40mm. The bund wall stops flooding from the Maroochy River in the west/south, as the flood plain runs from Mt Coolum to the river. The construction of the concrete wall is the responsibility of Sunshine Coast Council, and will be built by November 2018.

Construction of the new runway will be carried out by John Holland, the successful tenderer, at a cost of $236million, plus another $60million for unbudgeted costs.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

A Cultural Heritage Management Plan was developed in early 2017, and the Project staff are working with the Kabi Kabi community to manage the translocated wallum.

Research into the Eastern Ground parrot is receiving a $1 million injection, as it is known to have lived in the wallum area to the north of the airport precinct.

Rehabilitation of the dunes flattened for the positioning of the pipes will be carried out by Topo., an engineering company based in Meridan Plains. According to their website they:

“specialise in providing environmental and engineering solutions for our clients. …our core services relate around soil and water management…”

Mr Ullman said that advice would be sought from CaNSCC (and hopefully its subsidiary, CCNN) regarding revegetation of the site after the sand pumping has finished. He also acknowledged that the modified western horizon could affect sea-turtle nesting until the vegetation grows back, so that some form of artificial shading may be necessary for the next several nesting seasons.

Jan Crossland, CaNSCC secretary

July 29: Tree Planting and Bug Hunt. 10 to 11:30 a.m. Come early at 8:30 am to help plant trees, then look for bugs with the Bug Lady and make insect houses. The Tree Day planting and activities will be help at Cinnamon Park, 53 Cinnamon Ave, Coolum Beach.
Because this is a joint workshop with the Sunshine Coast Council for National Tree Day, all people attending must also be registered for the day with the Sunshine Coast Council. It is free to pre-register via this link https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/national-tree-day-sunshine-coast-registration-45960025674
Please ensure you register for the COOLUM BEACH event.

The Sunshine Coast Wildflower Festival is an annual, spring event to celebrate the beautiful display of wildflowers on the Sunshine Coast.

The Wildflower Festival was born in 1967 by Kathleen McArthur, an artist, author, environmentalist and founding member of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. Since its humble beginnings the Festival has grown each year with the support of local community groups hosting activities.

This year Coast Care will be hosting three walks with Rosa sharing her expertise at the Keith Royal Park walk on the 24th August; Mark leading his annual walk again at Coolum Beach West on Saturday morning 1st August, which is sure to delight and Tony leading another walk later on in the day at Marcoola, not to be missed!

The Wildflower Festival provides free, public guided walks and activities across the Sunshine Coast. From Bribie Island to Noosa National Park people can immerse themselves in nature. Discover the diversity of native, flowering plants in our local environment.

2018 Sunshine Coast Wildflower Festival

The Sunshine Coast Wildflower Festival will run from 19 August – 2 September 2018.

For more information about the 2018 Festival, view the Festival program[2204KB]and visit the events website.

Bookings are essential for each activity.

Loggerhead Turtle Hatchling starting its journey on the Sunshine Coast – photo by Chad Buxton

2018 has been the biggest season of nesting turtles by far since Coolum & North shore Coast Care commenced turtle monitoring in 2007. This year, our volunteers monitored 51 nests extending from Alexandra Headlands (SCC) to Alexandria Bay (NSC). Ten unsuccessful nesting events (turnarounds) were also recorded. Turtle nesting numbers surpassed the previous record of 28 nests in the 2016/17 turtle season.

This season we had 21 active Coast Care volunteers, approximately 25-30 regular beach walkers and we logged over 1,100 volunteer hours for 2017/2018. Of the 51 nests recorded, 48 were Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) The other 3 nests were Green turtles (Chelonia mydas). The CaNSCC volunteer team also managed to tag one green turtle at Peregian Beach, which was nesting at dawn so hopefully we will see her back in future years.

Beach walking to identify turtle tracks/nests commenced on 04 November 2017, and concluded on 14 March 2018, with our last data collection dig on 13 May 2018.

The first marine turtle nest was laid on 13 November 2017 at North Marcus, and was followed by two “turnarounds” (unsuccessful laying efforts). The next successful turtle nesting was laid on 01 December 2017. The last nest laying observed occurred on 20 February 2018 at South Sunshine Beach, with those hatchlings finally emerging in early May. As everyone involved agrees…it was a long and busy season.

Many marine turtles chose to nest on the darker beaches of Marcus Beach, South Peregian-Coolum Environment Park and Yaroomba. Research shows that marine turtles locate their nesting site while out at sea when approaching the beach. The ambient glow over, and the direct light onto, some of our beaches due to building heights and density and associated infrastructure consistently deters nesting turtles. This behaviour can be clearly seen in the 2018 map of the Marcoola area. There  has never been a successful nesting in front of the ocean-front high rise buildings in Marcoola since we started monitoring.

During the 2017/2018 season there were three nests located between Maroochydore and Alexandra Headlands. The first of these three turtle nests was laid during the day. All three nests were relocated to darker beaches when it was considered safe to do so. Two of the nests were relocated to Yaroomba, north of beach access 89 which was reported to be the darkest beach within the Sunshine Coast LGA in a 2017 benchmark survey commissioned by Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay Councils. The Sunshine Coast Council Turtle Care team relocated the third nest to Buddina Beach. If left in-situ, the turtle hatchlings would have navigated towards the brightest horizon, which is landward at Maroochydore to Alexandra Headland.


This season, several nests were also identified to have fox activity around the site. Measures were undertaken to discourage the fox from predating the eggs and hatchlings. Methods including meshing and flagging proved successful. One nest required caging nightly due to a persistently inquisitive fox. The cage was removed at first light, which was labour intensive. The local residents at Peregian Beach were of great assistance by checking the nest at 11 pm and 2 am each night.

Meshing used to prevent predation of nests – photo by Tanya Matilla

This season’s nest emergences had success rate above 85%, which equates to over 5,450 hatchlings making it to the ocean. Thirty-six of the 51 nests were relocated due to king tides and big swell, erosion, and light issues. While every effort is made to not disturb or relocate nests unnecessarily, these relocations resulted in much greater success rates.

The Coolum and North Shore Coast Care turtle volunteers could not protect or collect the data on nests and strandings without the amazing extended team of dedicated beach walkers and community members.  We are proud to provide this significant contribution to the Sunshine Coast environment and grateful for the training and support we receive by the Queensland Turtle Research Conservation Project and the working relationships we maintain with Turtle Care.

Choose one or all by clicking on the Register Now and follow the prompts. Targeted at families with young children (geared to the 4 to 10 year olds), these  events are self discovery, fun and practical…a great Sunday morning for the whole family and a good way for grandparents to introduce their kids to our natural environment. A gold coin donation is requested. For more info contact Diane on 0406 605 700.

— REGISTER NOW —

May 27:  Taking Action for Turtles. 10 a.m. to 12 Noon. Power Memorial Park, Mudjimba Esplanade

June 10: Exploring Rockpools. 10 – 11 a.m. Point Arkwright, Yaroomba, Coolum Beach

July 29: Discovering Trees and Bug Hunt. 10 to 11:30 a.m. Come early to help plant trees. Cinnamon Ave, Coolum Beach.