Nesting activities watched
■ 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.
A hawksbill turtle.