The number of South Pacific loggerhead nests on Mon Repos have reached more than 400 this season, a new high since the population was decimated by prawn trawls in the 1980s and 1990s. See the news story. Historically, more than 3,500 females nested along the coast in and near Mon Repos known as the Woongarra Coast. The numbers dropped to 350 per season due to capture in prawn trawls. The use of TEDS that were finally mandated in 2000 has started to show results with the new high for nesting females.
However this population, the biggest in the Southern Pacific, has a long way to go. Researcher Colin Limpus is expecting another decline in about 10 to 15 years because the juveniles and sub-adults are being captured on high seas longlines and are dying in great numbers from plastic ingestion – so there are very few “new recruits” to the population. Another big problem is increasing coastal development and lighting that is causing hatchlings to go off course and die in dunes, bushes and on streets. So these endangered sea turtles are far from stable.
A story just aired on local TV but doesn’t seem to be online yet, so here is a story from a week or so ago: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/12/31/2783263.htm