Geoscience Reference
In-Depth Information
The establishment of the 'Turtle Derby' reflected the popularity of this sport, as
several reports attest (QGTB, 1931; Anonymous, 1932; Holmes, 1933; Anonymous,
However, by 1940, concerns had been expressed that the use of turtles by
tourists constituted cruelty to the animals. When an officer of the QGTB visited
Lady Musgrave Island in 1940, he drew attention to 'the need for action to
prevent the cruelty and destruction which some tourists are causing to turtles and
other wildlife on the island'. He reported that the island contained thousands of
turtle nests on the eastern, western and northern sides of the island, and he stated:
'Turtle life is so prolific on Lady Musgrave that Mrs Bell [the Caretaker] is taxed to
the utmost in her endeavours to prevent cruelty to them by thoughtless tourists' . 13
The impacts of turtle-riding on the animals - in particular, the habit of overturning
the creatures during the preceding night - were considered in 1944 by A. M. Lewis,
who had recently visited Heron Island and who wrote to the Queensland Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (QSPCA), drawing attention to the fact
that the overturned turtles were often forgotten and left on the beach in blazing
sunlight . 14 A. E. Cole, the Director of the QSPCA, wrote to the Secretary of the
QDHM, stating that: 'I have personally seen turtles turned on their backs and left
on the beach at Heron Island '. 15 I n 1944, further complaints were made by visitors
to Heron Island to the Director of the QGTB that turtles were mistreated and killed
by the management of the tourist resort on the island . 16 F urther evidence of cruelty
and mortality to turtles in these locations was provided by Noel Monkman in a
1933 film entitled Ocean Oddities , and also by Glenne (1938) . 17
Turtle-riding did not cease with the introduction of legal measures to protect
the green turtle in the Great Barrier Reef, in 1950; the activity was not included
under the prohibition of the taking of green turtles, since the animals were not
considered to be 'caught' as they were eventually allowed to return to their
habitat. Turtle-riding in the Great Barrier Reef persisted until at least 1964,
when turtles were used for that purpose at South Molle Island . 18 However, the
activity has since been prohibited and all marine turtles now receive protection
from human interference in the GBRWHA. The precise extent of the impacts of
turtle-riding on the populations of the green turtle in the southern Great Barrier
Reef, between the 1900s and the 1960s, is not known; however, the cessation
of turtle-riding removed a source of interference with female green (and other)
turtles during egg-laying, and probably reduced the availability of captive turtles
that were vulnerable to other acts of cruelty or exploitation. The main period
of turtle-riding coincided with the most intensive period of operation of the
commercial green turtle fisheries, described above, and the associated decline in
numbers of green turtles.
Turtle farming in Torres Strait, 1970-1979
The commercial harvest of marine turtles or their eggs in the Great Barrier Reef
has been prohibited since 4 September 1962. However, the harvest of the animals
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