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To Feed or Not to Feed the Turtles

Home > Brisbane > Picnic Spots | Parks | Outdoor | Free | Animals and Wildlife
by Bee Hewitt (subscribe)
I am an artist living in Beachmere Qld
Published February 10th 2013
Feeding the wildlife food causes 'turtle turbulence'
Einbunpin Lagoon
Einbunpin Lagoon

Following on from my first article and the surprising amount of turtle turbulence it created, I decided to return to the scene of the crime and collect a few more facts. (Einbunpin Lagoon, Sandgate)

Lo and behold, there are at least two signs that in part stipulate no feeding the inhabitants, in particular NO BREAD. So there we have it.

My husband had come for the ride, primarily to drive while I primed the camera. He had slipped a couple of slices of bread (Aldi $1.00 per loaf) into a pocket just in case the signs could be missed and he could "innocently" provide some extra sustenance to the fishies. There are several entry points one could find and be blissfully unaware of the feeding restrictions.
Turtle
Turtles at Sandgate

I took some snaps of the signs about the place including an information plate about the turtles and eels and another plate with images of different species that inhabit this lagoon. It was a very pleasant afternoon.

A little paranoia began to set in. Was the bloke on the seat a council worker disguised as a retiree? Or the dad and the young girl in the undercover area was she a cover? Or the friendly chatty older woman with a dog and a foreign accent? My husband whispered the slices of bread felt like a bomb now and began asking stupid questions like do the Council have holding cells?.

But what happened next was interesting. A young mother with baby in a stroller wandered along the concrete verge to the waters edge. We noted she had been to a grocery store a couple of bags hung on the stroller handles.

She stopped and spent time with the young child pointing out the ducks and other birds floating about and the odd turtle that would "up periscope" looking for food.

Next thing we know, the woman reached around and pulled several slices of bread from the grocery bag and proceeded to dispense chunks into the water. Her customer base expanded rapidly both above water and below.

Einbunpin Lagoon
Turtles at the edge of the pond

Did she see the signs? Was she oblivious to her non-compliance? Was she informed and sticking it to the man, and just having some fun with her baby and to hell with the consequences?

We quietly watched our suspects for any movement towards the mother and child to snap on the handcuffs and cart them away in a shiny black car ... nothing happened, not even a camera click or two.

We left soon after, I packed my camera away and my husband quietly slipping the bread into a rubbish bin.

We concluded there is signage prohibiting feeding the wildlife and information why it is detrimental to their health. However there are enough gaps in the system to allow unsuspecting people to happily feed them without any awareness of their potentially harmful actions.

As a Mum (who has) toddlers some of our happiest moments would have been feeding the ducks or the eels with the left over bread stored in the freezer for such occasions. It seems sad that this generation of IT children are missing out on some outside fun. I wonder if there is a healthy option; environmental pellets or dried fruit/veggies perhaps?

Einbunpin Lagoon
Hoping for a snack
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Why? To feed or not to feed the turtles
When: Anytime
Where: Einbunpin Lagoon Sandgate
Cost: Free
Your Comment
I used to feed the ducks with bread as a child, and then may years later I found out that bread is bad for them. It bloats up their stomach so that they cannot eat anymore and essentially starves them to death. I don't think a bit of fun for the kids can be justified when it results poorly for the ducks. There are plenty of other fun things thy can do, and somehow I doubt they will feel like they missed out.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12328) 2254 days ago
Great followup article- turtle turbulence put a smile on my face!
by Where I Holiday (score: 2|338) 2245 days ago
Depends how much you value your fun, as most of the freshwater marine life you feed bread too will die painful deaths from constipation, starvation or infection
by smart (score: 0|2) 633 days ago
Bee, Its not just the turtles this is having its worst effect on the frogs as the yeast in the bread creates toxic water and fungal infections so while it may seem harmless to you and your toddler its a death sentence to wildlife.
If the act of feeding something is that important to you (despite proving they will come up to say hi without being fed), did you know you could feed them the outside leaves of your lettuce, or fresh or frozen corn and peas? this while increasing the amount of nutrient in the water that leads to the infamous outbreaks of Blue green algae in the pond from time to time, will not do damage to the turtles or the frogs or birds or other animals that rely on these waters. So next time maybe you can draw others attention to the signs and pass this on.
Kind regards,
by cazon (score: 0|4) 134 days ago
I know you know this now cos you read the sign, but its not just the turtles who are made sick by the bread - by far and away the most threatened group of animals on the planet and Australia - our frogs fair the worst when bread is thrown in the water. The yeast makes the water toxic and gives them fungal infections that kill them slowly.
Did you know you can still feed the birds, and turtles as long as you feed them the right stuff (like torn up bits of lettuce leaves or frozen or fresh peas or sweet corn.
The ley is to also only feed small amounts (the equivalent of 2 pieces of bread not a whole loaf) so its a snack not their entire diet.
now you know you can probably have the courage to not only stop others doing the wrong thing but give them a cheap alternative too. (most people throw away their outter lettuce leaves so you could probably get these for free from a local green grocer. Kind regards
by cazon (score: 0|4) 134 days ago
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