Our local Aussie turtle, the flatback! ​

Just like their green turtle cousins, flatback turtles (Natator depressus) are reptiles with a protective carapace (or shell) and flippers that help them move powerfully through the water.

​They are the most common turtle species to nest around Gladstone and are named for the distinctive shape of their shell which is almost flat and with upturned edges. This shell grows heart-shaped and can be up to one metre long! The picture below is a flatback returning to the water on Curtis Island’s South End Beach.

As a baby (or hatchling), flatbacks are grey in colour, with scales outlined in black and a white belly. As they get older, their flippers and head turn an olive-grey colour and their underside (called a ‘plastron’) becomes a pale yellow.

​Flatbacks grow slowly and it takes decades for them to develop into a breeding adult.

​Gladstone is lucky to have a number of important flatback rookeries (or nesting sites) nearby. Check out the map below to see where you might find them during nesting season (although never touch them or get too close!).

Flatback Profile
Scientific nameNatator depressus
Endangered statusVulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999, and Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act, 1999
Life spanBelieved to live for up to 60 years