We are open and COVIDSafe! Learn More Learn More
Category

Wildlife

The Experience: Committed To Conservation

Discovering the turtles of Moreton Island

By | Wildlife, Blog

Discovering the turtles of Moreton Island

Wildlife
TTC00200LR

The Moreton Bay region is one of the few places in the world where turtles can be found so close to a major city. Five species of sea turtle can be spotted year-round, including green, loggerhead, flatback, Pacific ridley and hawksbill turtle.

Who’s Who Of The Sea

Green Turtle chelonia mydas

Distinguishing features: Large, teardrop-shaped shell which comes in a variety of colours including black, brown, yellow and olive.

Loggerhead Turtle caretta caretta

Distinguishing features: Large reddish-brown shell and a short, oversized log-like head.

Flatback Turtle natator depressus

Distinguishing features: Sleek, pale grey-green, flat shell.

Hawksbill Turtle eretmochelys imbricata

Distinguishing features: Narrow pointed beak with a unique tortoiseshell coloured shell pattern that creates a serrated edge towards the back.

Olive ridley turtle (Pacific ridley) lepidochelys olivacea

Distinguishing features: Broad, olive-green shell with an oversized head.

From sand to sea, and back again.

Queensland boasts one of the largest populations of sea turtles in the world. During November-March, turtles return to their birthplace to breed. Female turtles make their way onto the shore and create up to seven nests of eggs underneath the sand. The summer heat warms the temperature of the sand and predicts the gender of the hatchlings; cooler for males and warmer for females. The eggs incubate for up to eight weeks before they hatch and the baby turtles begin their journey into the ocean.

Sadly, you won’t see any turtle babies on your Moreton Island tour; however, there is a high chance you will spot a turtle or two as they explore the coral reefs of the Tangalooma Wrecks. Many of the turtles you will see are in their teenage years.

The ancient mariners of the sea

Turtles have wandered the ocean for more than 120 million years and have earned the nickname of ‘Ancient Mariner’ rightly so. The average lifespan of a sea turtle is between 50-80 years old, with some known to live up to 100 years old.

Scientists are still unsure of the journey of the sea turtle and where they adventure during their time in the ocean. Turtles won’t come to land until they reach the breeding age of 30. From this age, they return to their birthplace to lay their eggs. In a vast ocean, how do they know where their original home is? During their time in the nest, hatchlings develop a form of GPS to which they use to find their way home.

A smorgasbord of jellyfish and seagrass

Sea turtles eat an array of underwater cuisine, all depending on the shape of their beak. Green turtles’ serrated beak makes it easy to munch through seagrass and jellyfish, whereas loggerhead turtles have a strong, curved beak which allows them to crunch on crabs and sea urchins. Hawksbill turtles, like their name, have a bird-like beak which helps them pick at sponge growing in coral reefs. Turtles have a razor-sharp sense of smell which allows them to locate food in murky water.

Three for the sea

Unfortunately, over the next few decades, sea turtles are at risk of becoming endangered or extinct. Pollution and litter are significant threats to their livelihood, as turtles cannot tell the difference between jellyfish and plastic bags floating in the ocean. Scientists have predicted that the loggerhead turtle may become extinct in forty years based on their rapidly declining population numbers.

Our favourite motto our crew lives by is ‘Take Three For The Sea‘. Rubbish on our streets ends up in waterways that eventually run out into the ocean. The piece of trash you walk past on your daily commute, if left, will end up in the sea and potentially risk the life of its inhabitants. You can help stop the pollution in our oceans by picking up three pieces of rubbish each day. If everyone on Earth picked up even one piece of litter a day, that would equate to 27.1 billion pieces saved from the sea each year. A little can go a long way.

gettyimageshawksbill

Hawksbill Turtle: Fotosearch/Fotosearch/Getty Images

Want to see these ancient creatures for yourself? Purchase your ticket for a See Moreton Dolphin and Tangalooma Wrecks Tour.

More Like This

sm6
Uncategorized

Why a day trip to Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) is the perfect family outing

Imagine this... You’re bathed in sunshine on a tranquil island. You’re sipping an ice-cold drink…
The Experience: Committed To Conservation
Wildlife

Discovering the turtles of Moreton Island

The Moreton Bay region is one of the few places in the world where turtles…
Dolphins
Blog

Dolphins at Moreton Island (Mulgumpin)

Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) is a nature lover's dream destination. Not only does it boast sparkling,…
Dolphins

Dolphins at Moreton Island (Mulgumpin)

By | Blog, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Dolphins at Moreton Island (Mulgumpin)

Wildlife
Meet the Locals

Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) is a nature lover’s dream destination. Not only does it boast sparkling, turquoise waters, but is home to an abundance of wildlife. Various species of turtles, dugongs, and fish can be discovered all around the island. One of the most common and popular marine life you will find is the dolphin. With a bountiful population of over 700 individuals in the region, it marks one of the largest groupings of the curious mammal in the world.

Why do dolphins love Moreton Island?

Moreton Bay Marine Park consists of protected waters, meaning it is a safe space for dolphin populations to thrive. Dolphins breed throughout the year and usually give birth in late summer. Keep an eye out for baby dolphins or ‘calves’ on your tour.

TTC00922 scaled

What dolphins will I see?

Two dolphin species call the waters of Moreton Island home; the Australian humpback dolphin and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin. You are most likely to see the bottlenose dolphin on your tour, distinguished by its dark grey, sleek body and a curved dorsal fin that sits at the centre of its back. Australian humpback dolphins are less common, but not unlikely, to find on your tour. They are identifiable by their humped back, light grey body, and long beak.

Dolphins and people

Bottlenose dolphins love people and can be found swimming between the boats and may even say hello during your snorkelling experience. The Bay has been an important and historical site for dolphins and local Aboriginal groups such as the Quandamooka People. The first nations people would call the dolphins from the sea by clicking their boomerangs and spears. The dolphins would herd the fish into the shore, allowing the people to hunt what they needed, leaving the rest for the dolphins.

Did you know that the Quandamooka word for dolphin is ‘Buwangan’?

Australian humpback dolphin

Sousa sahulensis

Colour: Light grey on their upper-dorsal and white underbelly

Size: Grow up to 2.7m in length and weigh up to 200kg.

Moreton Island population: Less than 200

Distinguishing features: Hump on their back where a small dorsal fin sits. Long beak that protrudes out of the water.

Diet: Opportunistic feeders that feed close to the ocean floor. Prey on fish and have been seen to follow trawler boats.

Location: Found in the northern waters of Australia beginning at the NSW-QLD border.

There are less than 200 Australian humpback dolphins in the Moreton Bay region, representing one of the largest congregations in the world. Despite the high numbers at Moreton Island, they are listed as a vulnerable species. The area around the Port of Brisbane is part of their core habitat, and you will often see them at the mouth of the Brisbane river on your departure and/or arrival.

The Australian Humpback Dolphin is a shy species, keeping to itself rather than interacting with humans. They love to play with seaweed, shells, jellyfish, along with each other.

TTC00377 scaled

Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin

Tursiops aduncus

Colour: Dark grey on the upper-dorsal side and light grey to white on their underbelly

Size: Grow up to 2.5m in length and weigh up to 250kg.

Moreton Island population: 700

Distinguishing features: Sleek body, short beak, and curved dorsal fin.

Diet: Fish, octopus, squid, crustaceans, and small rays. Often seen following trawler boats.

Location: Found all over Australia

Bottlenose dolphins are very social creatures and have been seen in pods of up to 100 individuals. Moreton Bay is home to approximately 700 bottlenose dolphins, making them the most common species you will see on your See Moreton tour. Females travel with other females in pods of up to 20 individuals, whereas males tend to stick close together with at least four other males.

The Moreton Bay bottlenose dolphin population is divided into two groupings: Non-trawler dolphins that are found close to shore in shallow water, hanging around seagrass meadows; and trawler dolphins are found farther from shore, hanging around trawler boats chasing the daily catch.

Did you know that the different pods of bottlenose dolphins at Moreton Island tend to only interact and bond with dolphins who have the same foraging techniques as each other? You won’t see non-trawler dolphins mingling with trawler dolphins.

Bottlenose dolphins are known for their curious personalities and playful behavior such as leaping, surfing, and tail slapping. Keep an eye out on the front of the boat as they love to ride the bow!

Now you know everything there is about our beloved Moreton Island dolphins, it’s time to see them for yourself. We see dolphins on 92% of our tours. Book your See Moreton Dolphin and Tangalooma Wrecks tour today!

More Like This

sm6
Uncategorized

Why a day trip to Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) is the perfect family outing

Imagine this... You’re bathed in sunshine on a tranquil island. You’re sipping an ice-cold drink…
The Experience: Committed To Conservation
Wildlife

Discovering the turtles of Moreton Island

The Moreton Bay region is one of the few places in the world where turtles…
Dolphins
Blog

Dolphins at Moreton Island (Mulgumpin)

Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) is a nature lover's dream destination. Not only does it boast sparkling,…
TTC00255

Dougie: Our favourite dugong

By | Wildlife

Dougie: Our favourite dugong

TTC00255

A day out to the Tangalooma Wrecks site at Moreton Island will be a fun-filled adventure you won’t soon forget! You will come face to face with a variety of marine creatures – ranging from colourful marine reef fish swimming in formation, live corals and strange looking starfish and sea urchins hiding amongst the reef. If you are lucky you may spot a green sea turtle gliding through the water or having a snooze on the sandy bottom. Pods of dolphins can also be encountered and, because they are naturally curious, they often swim very close to the boat and playfully ride the bow wave. Don’t forget your camera!

An encounter with one of the dugongs that call Moreton Bay home may well be on the cards. But don’t forget, dugongs are shy in nature and can be elusive. This just makes spotting one all the more exciting! Dugongs spend the majority of their days swimming peacefully through the shallows searching for food and munching on seagrass. They venture to the surface to breathe and have a quick look around, but unfortunately their eyesight is considered poor. Our crew will be on high alert – using their well-trained eyes to look for subtle clues that a dugong is nearby. As they search the shallow waters for these timid creatures often the first thing they see is a big brown or grey snout poking above the water. Dugongs surface with their snout to easily exhale and then take in a breath of fresh air. If you look closely you may see all the whiskers (vibrissae) around their mouth. Next, you may see a broad back break the water’s surface. If you see long scratches along the back, you have most likely spotted an adult female dugong.

 

The most well-known resident dugong we encounter on our tours is Dougie the dugong! His home range surrounds the Tangalooma Wrecks, and he is often seen patrolling for any adult females venturing into his territory. Dougie is always keen to meet (and chase!) the local females. Dougie, like other mature male dugongs, has two small tusks in his mouth. He can use these to compete with other males in his bid to win over a female. If Dougie wins the match, he will begin courting the adult female, and he will use his tusks to give her a back scratch, covering her back with marks. If you are lucky enough to see Dougie, have a good look to see if he has any fresh tusk wounds from recent battles with other males.

 

Each day, Dougie will spend most of his time diving to the seafloor to search for, locate and then slurp up patches of seagrass. He uses the sensitive bristles arranged around his upper lip to find, grasp and pull up seagrasses by their roots. Dougie, like other dugongs, uses his whiskers and snout like a vacuum, leaving the sandy bottom covered with track lines. Recent research tells us that dugongs are not herbivores, as was previously thought. They are mostly vegetarian, with the majority of their diet consisting of seagrasses. However, scientists have learned that dugongs will also snack on tiny creatures living along the sandy bottom (macro-invertebrates), such as ascidians (or sea squirts). Dougie may live to be 70 years old, grow to 3 metres in length and tip the scales at 400 kg.

 

Moreton Bay’s dugong population is thought to be somewhere between 600 and 800. This population is special for several reasons. Firstly, it is considered the largest population of dugongs living so close to a big city like Brisbane. Secondly, the Moreton Bay dugong population is located at the southern limit to their range on the east coast of Australia. Dugongs prefer warmer water temperatures and in Moreton Bay the sea surface temperature ranges from a chilly 18.0°C in winter to a cosy 27.0°C in summer. Thirdly, dugongs are quite rare around the globe, partly because they reach maturity late in life and don’t breed extensively. Also, they are heavily reliant on seagrass beds being plentiful and healthy, which requires good water quality and low pollution levels. Sadly, dugongs are classified as vulnerable in Queensland waters. So be sure to give Dougie a wave if you are lucky enough to see him!

More like this

sm6
Uncategorized

Why a day trip to Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) is the perfect family outing

Imagine this... You’re bathed in sunshine on a tranquil island. You’re sipping an ice-cold drink…
The Experience: Committed To Conservation
Wildlife

Discovering the turtles of Moreton Island

The Moreton Bay region is one of the few places in the world where turtles…
Dolphins
Blog

Dolphins at Moreton Island (Mulgumpin)

Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) is a nature lover's dream destination. Not only does it boast sparkling,…
TTC00377

The wonderful wildlife of Moreton Island: Animals you are likely to see on a trip with us

By | Wildlife

The wonderful wildlife of Moreton Island: Animals you are likely to see on a trip with us

TTC00377

Home to the famed Tangalooma Wrecks and a world-renowned destination for encountering dolphins, dugongs and sea turtles, a cruise to Moreton Island is a nature lover’s dream. See Moreton’s onboard marine naturalists have been working with the incredible animals for over a decade and have the experience to give you the closest wildlife encounters possible. Here’s what to look out for…

Bottlenose dolphins

Moreton Bay’s friendliest residents are undoubtedly the dolphins. Moreton Bay Marine Park is home to two dolphin species: the Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphin and the Australian humpback dolphin. Dolphins are highly intelligent, social creatures that are known for their playful and interactive encounters with people. Bottlenose dolphins are commonly found swimming within the surrounds of Moreton Bay and an encounter with them will likely be a joyous one, for their friendly nature leads them to deliberately seek out human interaction. They have a short, thick beak and a curved mouth, giving the appearance that they are always smiling. As social creatures, they travel in pods of around 10 to 15 dolphins. Find them frolicking around the Tangalooma Wrecks, particularly in the afternoon.

 

Australian humpback dolphins

If you’re really lucky, you may spot the rare Australian humpback dolphin, whose population is estimated to number less than 100. This dolphin was only described as a separate species in 2014. They get their name from their elongated dorsal fin and humpback appearance, which arises from the accumulation of fatty tissue on their backs as they age. Their mounded forehead and long beaks also differentiate them from other dolphin species. Lucky for us, they are mostly found in shallow nearshore waters, often at the mouths of estuaries and in tidal channels. They are often observed in smaller groups of 2 to 4 and, unlike bottlenose dolphins, do not bow ride. Instead, they like to leap clear from the water! Search for splashes and dorsal fins breaking the water’s surface.

 

Dugongs

The dugong is the only plant-eating mammal that lives its entire life in the water. They have been nicknamed “sea cows” by some, as they are slow moving and spend most of their day feeding on seagrass. Intriguingly, dugongs are more closely related to elephants than any other marine animal. Dugongs have relatively poor eyesight, so they rely on the sensitive bristles covering their snouts to find and grasp seagrass. They may live up to 70 years and are slow breeders – female dugongs not breeding until they are at least 10 to 17 years old. Moreton Bay Marine Park is the southern limit of dugong activity along the east coast of Australia, and is home to approximately 600 to 800 of these gentle sea creatures. If you are lucky enough to spot a dugong, chances are it’s our resident local, Dougie!

 

Sea turtles

Six out of the world’s seven species of sea turtles can be found in Moreton Bay. This is a pretty special feat considering the island is so close to a capital city. Those most commonly seen on a visit to Moreton Island include green turtles, loggerhead turtles and hawksbill turtles. Moreton Island’s seagrass meadows provide local turtles with the ultimate dining experience. Green turtles will feast on the seagrass meadows themselves, while loggerheads will munch on the shellfish, sea urchins, crabs and jellyfish that call the meadows home. Turtles are extraordinary navigators and often nest at the same beaches they were hatched. While they do spend a lot of time napping on the seafloor, they occasionally venture up to the surface for air – and to say hello to us, of course! Listen out for squeals of delight from passengers when one is spotted.

 

Birds

Over 180 species of birds have been recorded from Moreton Island, including pelicans, sea eagles, brahminy kites and pied cormorants. Many of these birds are rescue animals that have been saved and released onto the island. Australian pelicans are one of the largest flying birds in the world, and hold the record for the longest beak! Sea eagles are large birds of prey with big, hooked beaks for catching fish. Spot these birds flying high in the sky in circular motions. Brahminy kites are also birds of prey, often seen perched for long periods of time before swooping down onto prey in the water or ground. Pied cormorants are pro fish hunters, plunging themselves deep into the water when chasing prey. They may even eat the fish underwater! Be sure to say hello to our favourite pied cormorant, Georgie. And don’t worry – she isn’t camera shy.

 

Fish

Moreton Island is a haven for over 100 unique species of fish, including mullet, crescent perch and southern soft-spined sunfish. Luckily for us, the island’s subtropical climate means we see both tropical and temperate varieties of fish. The diversity is truly incredible. Witness it for yourself on the snorkelling tour, and during fish feeding.

Although not an extensive list of all the wonderful creatures that call Moreton Island home, this list provides a starting point and guide for the animals you may want to keep a lookout for while on your Dolphin & Tangalooma Wrecks Cruise with See Moreton. Spot dolphins, dugongs and turtles on a See Moreton Marine Discovery Cruise and meet Georgie the cormorant, who will be there waiting to snag up some food during your fish feeding session. With our expert tour guides and marine naturalists, you are bound to experience the best of Moreton Island. Just remember, keep your eyes open and your cameras ready!

More like this

sm6
Uncategorized

Why a day trip to Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) is the perfect family outing

Imagine this... You’re bathed in sunshine on a tranquil island. You’re sipping an ice-cold drink…
The Experience: Committed To Conservation
Wildlife

Discovering the turtles of Moreton Island

The Moreton Bay region is one of the few places in the world where turtles…
Dolphins
Blog

Dolphins at Moreton Island (Mulgumpin)

Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) is a nature lover's dream destination. Not only does it boast sparkling,…