Kimberley volunteers support turtle research

Titanium flipper tags are placed in the front flippers, the carapace (shell) is measured, eggs counted and each nest marked.

Titanium flipper tags are placed in the front flippers, the carapace is measured, eggs counted and each nest marked.

The flatback is one of seven species of sea turtles in the world but only nests in Australia.

The flatback is one of seven species of sea turtles in the world but only nests in Australia.

One of Australia’s truly stunning National Landscapes is The Kimberley in Western Australia. Where the red rocks and dust meet the crystal blue waters of the West Kimberley lays a piece of paradise known as Eco Beach. It is here, just south of Broome, that Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) has been conducting sea turtle monitoring each nesting season since 2009.

Each year from November to January Australian flatback turtles return to the beach where they were born to lay multiple clutches of eggs. Some turtles nest here every twelve months while others come every second year or third year.

On this wide and windy beach teams of volunteers walk up to nine kilometers each night seeking nesting turtles during the 40 night tagging survey. Led by experienced CVA Research Assistants, volunteers gather scientific data after the turtle has deposited her eggs.  The results add important scientific knowledge to this unique Australian reptile.

One method of tracking where a turtle goes after nesting is attaching a satellite tracking transmitter to the shell. This expensive exercise enables researchers to identify new and existing feeding grounds in waters off the northern Australian coastline or just into South East Asia.

The program has identified new feeding grounds in the Timor Sea between Broome and Darwin. One of our turtles has been observed to travel 1,600 kms to one of these grounds!

To follow one of our turtles or become an adoptive parent to support ongoing scientific work visit the website here. You can also support the flatback turtle through CVA’s Wild Futures program which assists species in urgent need of conservation and protection.  Learn more about how you can get involved, including helping out with this vital turtle monitoring program at Wild Futures.

Glenn McFarlane, CVA Marine Species

The Kimberley, Australia’s National Landscapes

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