Nest­ing ac­tiv­i­ties watched

Pilbara News - - News - Peter de Krui­jff

■ It may look like a bizarre science experiment to cre­ate a ro­bot, but Pil­bara sci­en­tists are ac­tu­ally glu­ing satel­lite trans­mit­ters to sea tur­tles to find out more about their nest­ing habits.

Ear­lier this month, Depart­ment of Parks and Wildlife of­fi­cers spent three days on Rose­mary Is­land in the Dampier Ar­chi­pel­ago where an es­ti­mated 500 to 1000 hawks­bill tur­tles go to nest ev­ery year.

Seven tur­tles were tagged with satel­lite trans­mit­ters which en­able GPS track­ing.

DPaW marine con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer Joanne King said the depart­ment had been tag­ging tur­tles with flip­per tags for the past 28 years on Rose­mary, but this was the first time they had at­tached satel­lite track­ers on their backs.

“The hawks­bills can nest up to three times in a sea­son so this will tell us how long the in­ter­vals are be­tween their nest­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, where they hang out around the is­land, and where they go af­ter­wards to take a break,” she said.

“Once the nest­ing is done we’ll get the mi­gra­tion data from where they go be­tween Rose­mary Is­land and their feed­ing grounds.

“The hawks­bills have be­come ex­tinct in some parts of the world and the pop­u­la­tion we’re work­ing on in the North West Shelf is prob­a­bly the largest in the In­dian Ocean and one of the largest in the world.”

The tur­tle tag­ging sea­son is not yet over with the depart­ment get­ting ready to head out in mid-Oc­to­ber for their flip­per tag­ging pro­gram.

The lo­cal in­dus­try and gov­ern­ment West Pil­bara Tur­tle pro­gram will also kick off on Novem­ber 1. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion con­tact the Depart­ment of Parks and Wildlife Kar­ratha of­fice on 9182 2000.

Pic­ture: DPaW

A hawks­bill tur­tle.

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