SYDNEY, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Turtles on Australia's northeast coast have been ready for the start of nesting season, with the first creature clambering ashore on Thursday night, prompting a traditional warm welcome by residents.
Bells rang across the nearby city of Bundaberg in the State of Queensland on Friday, a much loved tradition to celebrate the arrival of the first turtle, and the official start of nesting season.
"The annual ringing of the bells is a beloved tradition in Bundaberg and is a reminder of how crucial the region is to the conservation of endangered loggerhead turtles," Queensland Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said.
Church and school bells sounded across the city, representing the community's commitment to keeping the turtles safe and happy while the next generation of babies are being born.
And according to Enoch, the particular flatback turtle which was first to arrive on shore was extra special.
"She was identified as the world's longest studied turtle. This 70-year-old turtle first nested at Mon Repos beach in 1974, making this is her 17th breeding season here," Enoch said.
Volunteers identified her while on patrol late on Thursday night as she dug her egg chamber, later reporting that she had successfully laid 33 eggs.
The beach at Mon Repos stages the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and is home to the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific region.
Visitors to the region can experience the event between November and March each year and enjoy nightly tours of the beach, which is otherwise off-limits at nighttime for the duration of the season.
A 22-million-Australian dollar (15-million-U.S. dollar) turtle information center will be opened next month, including an immersive theater room to showcase the majestic event year round.