Dive deeper with these cold-blooded reptiles
Turtles are fascinating aquatic reptiles and Gladstone is very important to the lives of two species in particular — the flatback and green turtles. Although you can find others like the loggerhead, the leatherback, the olive ridley or the hawksbill (like the one in the picture below) foraging in the region too!
The flatback turtle is endemic to Australia, meaning you can only find it here, while other turtles like the green turtle, the loggerhead, or the hawksbill can all be found in other places around the world as well as in our own backyard!
On this page you will find interesting and important information about the sea turtles found in the Gladstone area, as well as some simple ways you can help protect these important species and their habitats!
Be sure to check out the terrific turtle activities where you can:
What's in a name?
Green turtles don’t get their name from the colour of their shell, but the colour of their fat — it is green from the algae and sea grasses they eat!
Self-defence for turtles
Hatchlings have quite the struggle early in their life, with many natural predators. Flatback hatchlings are among the largest of the sea turtles, which gives them a bit more protection early on in life.
Coming up for air
Turtles need to surface to breathe air, sometimes as often as every few minutes, or sometimes as rarely as every 90 minutes. Regardless of how often they need to surface, this means that they face major danger if they get caught in fishing nets or other traps underwater — they can drown if they don’t come up for air.
Be sure to dispose of your fishing nets and lines safely!
Our local Aussie turtle, the flatback!
Just like their green turtle cousins, flatback turtles (Natator depressus) are reptiles with a protective carapace (or shell) and flippers that help them move powerfully through the water.
They are the most common turtle species to nest around Gladstone and are named for the distinctive shape of their shell which is almost flat and with upturned edges. This shell grows heart-shaped and can be up to one metre long! The picture below is a flatback returning to the water on Curtis Island's South End Beach.
As a baby (or hatchling), flatbacks are grey in colour, with scales outlined in black and a white belly. As they get older, their flippers and head turn an olive-grey colour and their underside (called a 'plastron') becomes a pale yellow.
Flatbacks grow slowly and it takes decades for them to develop into a breeding adult.
Gladstone is lucky to have a number of important flatback rookeries (or nesting sites) nearby. Check out the map below to see where you might find them during nesting season (although never touch them or get too close!).