Festival raises fears for turtle nest
A music festival taking place close to Golden Bay this weekend has raised concern over the well-being of a nest of turtle eggs on the beach, but organisers insist they have taken all possible precautions.
The Bubble, an annual music and arts festival, kicks off tomorrow at Għajn Tuffieħa tower, which overlooks the sandy beach where a loggerhead turtle nested in early August.
The area has been cordoned off and monitored around the clock by Nature Trust volunteers, and the eggs are expected to hatch in the coming days.
Volunteers have dug a trench from the nest to the sea to help the hatchlings on their way, but the presence of a music festival in such close proximity has raised concern due to the risk of excessive light and sound.
Newly hatched turtles are instinctively drawn to the brightest horizon, and bright artificial lights often cause them to become disoriented. Vibrations from loud music are also a threat to the eggs, and Nature Trust has raised concern previously about fireworks being let off from the adjacent Golden Sands hotel.
Nature Trust chairman Vincent Attard told the Times of Malta the group had been in touch with the Environment and Resources Authority about the festival, with the regulator committing to monitoring the situation.
Bubble organiser Duncan Fenech said the festival team had already taken precautions to avoid disturbing the nest. Draping has been placed around all perimeter fences to shield light and a new sound system brought in to focus music on the festival area and limit noise pollution.
The organisers are also in contact with the ERA and said they were prepared to take additional precautions if necessary.
This turtle nesting is the first locally since 2012, when a loggerhead turtle laid eggs at Ġnejna Bay, the first recorded incidence in decades. Those eggs never hatched, with environmental authorities concluding they had become water-logged due to the underlying blue clay.
Loggerhead turtles tend to lay between three and six nests a season, with anything up to 130 eggs in each. The eggs incubate for about 60 days before hatching, and female turtles eventually return to the beach where they were born to lay their own eggs.
The species is classified as globally endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and capturing or killing, as well as deliberately disturbing turtles or their eggs, is prohibited by law.