Tag­ging pro­gram vi­tal for tur­tle data

Pilbara News - - News -

A hawksbill tur­tle tag­ging pro­gram at Rose­mary Is­land in the Pil­bara is pro­vid­ing im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion about the life cy­cle of the marine species.

The re­cently com­pleted 2016/ 17 pro­gram noted an in­crease in the num­ber of hatched nests dur­ing the two-week mon­i­tor­ing pe­riod, pro­vid­ing an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity for vol­un­teers to see hatch­lings early in the nest­ing/ hatch­ing sea­son, which runs from Oc­to­ber-April.

Depart­ment of Parks and Wildlife Pil­bara marine con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer Joanne King said the tag­ging pro­gram, which be­gan in 1986, was among the long­est-run­ning pro­grams of its kind in WA.

“DPaW staff and lo­cal vol­un­teers record their nest­ing ac­tiv­i­ties on five dif­fer­ent beaches, camp­ing on the is­land and work­ing through the night tag­ging and record­ing de­tails,” she said.

“This year we recorded 507 tur­tles in 14 nights, in­clud­ing 157 which had not been recorded be­fore. Long-term projects such as this are im­por­tant as tur­tles have a com­plex life cy­cle that spans many decades and many hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres and these pro­grams al­low counts to oc­cur on beaches where in­di­vid­u­als show high fidelity.”

Ms King said tag­ging to iden­tify in­di­vid­ual marine tur­tles through­out their breed­ing life al­lowed a more in-depth un­der­stand­ing of how the pop­u­la­tion func­tioned.

Rio Tinto has sup­ported the Rose­mary Is­land Tur­tle Tag­ging pro­gram since 2014.

Rio Tinto Dampier Ports gen­eral man­ager Jess Far­rell said it pro­vided cru­cial data on tur­tle pop­u­la­tions in the area.

“Rose­mary Is­land sup­ports the big­gest hawksbill rook­ery in the Indo-Pa­cific, so tur­tle con­ser­va­tion is im­per­a­tive for the re­gion,” she said. “This pro­gram is im­por­tant to the sus­tain­abil­ity of hawks­bills and com­ple­ments our sup­port for the West Pil­bara Tur­tle Pro­gram in Wick­ham and our flat­back tur­tle pro­gram on De­lam­bre Is­land.”

Hawksbill tur­tles are listed as crit­i­cally en­dan­gered by the In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture, and vul­ner­a­ble un­der WA leg­is­la­tion.

A hawksbill tur­tle makes a rare day­time ap­pear­ance dur­ing the breed­ing sea­son at Rose­mary is­land.

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