Australia: Turtle strandings down as seabeds recover

9News 4 Dec 11;

Marine turtle and dugong strandings in Queensland are starting to slow down as seagrass beds recover from last summer's floods.

Environment Minister Vicky Darling said on Sunday that the rate of marine strandings in Gladstone and throughout Queensland had fallen in the past six weeks.

During the first 29 days in November there were eight cases of stranded marine turtles in Gladstone. That compared with 11 cases in October, 44 in September and 74 in August.

One dugong was reported stranded in the area over the first 29 days of November, compared with one in October, two in September and one in August.

Seagrass beds in the area were wiped out by last summer's floods.

Ms Darling said it had been a distressing year, with significant increases in the number of stranded and dead turtles and dugongs along the Queensland coast.

"Fortunately the scientists are telling me that these populations will recover when food is available, and the latest data is backing that up by showing a decline in strandings as the seagrass recovers," Ms Darling said.