High-tech way to track turtles in Great Barrier Reef

August 23, 2022 9:04 am in by


Young turtles’ journeys through the Great Barrier Reef will be tracked via satellites as part of a new research project.

James Cook University (JCU) and Glencore are teaming up to try protect the future of loggerhead sea turtles.

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Glencore is providing $150,000 over three years to JCU to research the little-known first years of a loggerhead turtle’s life to find out more about the threats facing the species.

The reddish-brown turtle is listed as endangered, which means it may become extinct if the threats to their survival continue.

The information gained from the research will be used to try to reverse declining numbers and maximise the turtle’s chances of long-term survival in the wild.

Professor Ellen Ariel says the loggerheads will be fitted with satellite tracking devices upon their release, allowing researchers to follow their movements through the ocean during the stage of life commonly referred to as the “lost years.”

“By learning more about them during this vulnerable life stage, we can help inform conservation management strategies that will benefit the entire population of Pacific loggerhead turtles,” she says.

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The turtles currently housed at the Turtle Health Research Centre for the project were collected from Mon Repos, the largest loggerhead nesting beach in Queensland.

Loggerhead turtles have a worldwide distribution with two distinct populations in Australia.

Hatchlings from Queensland disperse as far as South America and spend about 16 years at sea before returning to Australian waters.

Image: JCU