Home' Traveller : Scoop Traveller WA 021 Contents January - June 2012 Scoop Traveller 49
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urtles are long-lived, highly
migratory – crossing state and
country boundaries – and use various
habitats throughout their life cycle,
including beaches, open ocean and shallow
inshore areas. Because of their complicated life
cycle, which requires them to travel thousands
of kilometres, fully understanding the biology
of sea turtles and managing their populations
is extremely challenging.
Found in all the world’s oceans, except
in polar regions, they play a vital role in the
world’s marine ecosystems. Most sea turtles,
such as the green turtle, feed on sea grasses,
ensuring a trimmed and healthy seabed for
countless bottom-of-the-ocean creatures.
Turtles also feed on jellyfish and
crustaceans, and are, in turn, prey for larger
predators such as sharks, whales and, of
Hunted for millennia, their flesh and fat
is considered exotic delicacies and a basic food
supply for indigenous cultures worldwide. Their
meat is said to be an acquired taste; it’s oily,
salty and deeply pungent.
Some species remain relatively close to
home, while others travel the oceans clocking
up impressive mileage. One monitored turtle
recently recorded a single day’s journey of a
staggering 300km. Turtles have a ‘compass’
in their brain, a natural tracking device that
allows them to find their way back to the
beach where they were hatched.
A turtle’s sex life is all work and little
play. Some sea turtles mate at sea only once
every two or three years, yet females can lay
numerous batches of eggs over that time. The
nesting process is exhausting, and the rate of
success heartbreakingly low. Nests consist of
anywhere between 30-200 eggs depending on
the species, with as little as one in every 10,000
hatchlings surviving to sexual maturity.
From January to March, the hatchlings
emerge from the nests. Beach nests are
prone to predators of all sorts (including
humans, introduced animals such as foxes,
and native animals such as crabs), and their
nesting grounds are increasingly at risk from
inappropriate coastal developments and
A green turtle.
A female loggerhead rescued at Gnaraloo
Bay (Photography Matthew Boureau for the
Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program).
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