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Viral turtle footage shows success of conservation project

Date: 17-Jun-20
Author: Liam Taylor

Conservationists say there is still much work to be done to ensure the longevity of green turtle populations in the region.

Conservationists say there is still much work to be done to ensure the longevity of green turtle populations in the region.

Millions of people around the world have been captivated over the last week by incredible images of tens of thousands of turtles gathering off Cape York Peninsula, but this may not have been possible without concerted conservation efforts.

Raine Island, a small coral cay on the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, is the world’s largest green sea turtle rookery. The rookery can attract up to 100,000 nesting females and produces up to 90 per cent of the region’s green turtle population. 

During the 1990s however, it seemed unlikely images like those seen recently would be likely. The hatching rate of eggs fell dramatically while thousands of adult females were perishing from falling from steep sections on the island or heat exhaustion from attempting to scale them.

A large-scale conservation project was launched to investigate the issue and provide potential solutions that would enable the turtles to nest safely.

"One of the first things was to try to stop the turtles falling off these cliffs as they clambered up onto them," Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) senior researcher Dr. Andrew Dunstan told ABC News.

"The idea was to fence the edge of those cliffs so they couldn't even get up there."

The second phase of the project was much more complex, involving moving large amounts of sand in order to reshape the island to prevent nests being flooded during high tides. Coastal erosion had caused the island to spread and the beaches to become lower to sea level, increasing the likelihood of nest inundation.

To address this the recovery team brought in heavy machinery to re-profile nearly a third of the island to raise the height of nesting beaches, with hatchling production nearly doubling in those areas. By combining these efforts with sophisticated monitoring technology, the research team is making big advances in their understandings of turtle behaviour and nesting habits.

Whilst positive signs of recovery such as those sighted recently are emerging, the team say it is critical for recovery efforts to continue at the rookery.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia. Joining the communications team at Planet Ark, he hopes to inspire positive environmental behaviour through effective and positive messaging.

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