Home' Traveller : Scoop Traveller WA 021 Contents 50 Scoop Traveller Januar y - June 2012
scoop.com.au Explore WA
ISSUE turtle conservation
Western Australia has a 20,781km coastline
of mainland, islands and archipelagos, from
the windswept cold southern reaches, to
the sub-tropical northern beachheads.
Home to a delicately balanced and
profoundly varied marine population, it
plays host to six visiting species of sea turtle
out of a grand total of seven worldwide.
Most sea turtles are listed internationally
as threatened (critically endangered,
endangered or vulnerable).
Classifications range from the cautious
(protected) to the worrisome (vulnerable)
and on to the dire (critical).
There are two distinct families of sea
turtles: Dermochelyidae, with one representative
(the world’s largest turtle, the leatherback);
and Cheloniidae, which includes the green,
loggerhead, hawksbill, flatback and olive
The International Union for Conservation
of Nature (IUCN) Red List now classifies the
loggerhead and green turtles as endangered
species and the hawksbill turtle as critically
endangered. Australian flatback turtles are
classified as ‘data deficient’, which means
not enough is known about them and their
ecology to place them safely into any of the
other IUCN categories.
The largest loggerhead populations in the
world can be found in Oman in the Middle
East, Florida in the US, Cape Verde Islands on
the west coast of Africa, and Western Australia.
Top spots in WA include Dirk Hartog Island
(Shark Bay), Gnaraloo Bay (mainland), Cape
Range National Park (mainland) and the Muiron
Islands (to the north of Cape Range National
Park). WA also has one of the world’s largest
flatback turtle populations.
Though generally found in the near-north,
ante-tropical, and northern sub-tropical
waters, WA’s turtles are occasionally sighted
south at Rottnest Island, Marmion Marine Park
and in the Great Southern region. Freshwater
turtles, such as the smaller longneck and
oblong varieties, can be found in lakes and
swamps throughout the Perth metropolitan
area and as far south as Albany.
Leading the way
Although legislation has gone a long way to
giving sea turtles a future, surprisingly little
is known about their entire life cycle.
Private and government-funded research
programs and new technology are crucial
to helping us understand more about their
mating, nesting and migration patterns.
The Department of Environment and
Conservation (DEC) operates important
monitoring and protection projects in
the north of WA, particularly in high
turtle-stock areas such as the Pilbara and
Gascoyne coasts (mainly green and hawksbill
turtles), and at Shark Bay south
Olive Ridley Turtle
Turtle Mirgration Route
A map showing the types of sea turtles that nest in Western
Australia and the start of their migration routes.
A turtle gliding in the blue waters of Coral Bay
(Photography Courtesy Ningaloo Marine Park).
A flatback in close-up
(Photography Eco Beach Resort).
Links Archive Scoop Traveller WA 020 Scoop Traveller WA 022 Navigation Previous Page Next Page