Western Australia

Mass release of endangered loggerhead turtles

Thirty-three post hatchling loggerhead turtles will be released into Ningaloo Marine Park after being found washed ashore along the south-west coast of Western Australia.

The release is part of conservation efforts to help this critically endangered marine species, with only an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 females known to nest annually in WA.

The turtles were among 54 found by community members on beaches and reported to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

Once reported, the turtles were taken by the Parks and Wildlife Service to Perth Zoo vets for assessment and transferred to two of the State’s turtle rehabilitation centres at AQWA and Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre. When found, these turtles weighed between 100-200 grams and eight months on they now weigh between 570-1,800 grams.

Some of the released turtles will have satellite transmitters attached to track their movements from their release points. Once tagged, they will be flown by Qantas to Exmouth for release from boats.

Post hatchling loggerhead turtles periodically strand along the south-west coast. The strandings appear dependent on winter storms and the strength of the Leeuwin current. Some years there are less than 10 found, while other years present more than 100.

Loggerhead turtles have an oceanic life stage between entering the water as a hatchling and settling in coastal waters as adults. Little is known about this life stage and by using tracking devices, DBCA scientists hope to gain information on the movements and behaviour of the turtles to inform conservation actions.

Source: WA Government