Assessing the risk of multiple human pressures to flatback turtles

What? To build and run a cumulative risk assessment model for flatback turtles on the North West Shelf in order to identify priority areas that need to be managed, monitored and/or protected to increase the conservation of flatback turtles. Maps showing the cumulative impact of anthropogenic pressures on the stock and high versus low impacted areas will be produced.


Why? Information about anthropogenic pressures impacting the North West Shelf flatback turtle stock is limited and in particular there is no understanding of the cumulative impact of these human pressures on the stock. A comprehensive spatial and temporal overview of all human pressures impacting this stock is critical to inform the NWSFTCP's next strategic conservation plan and help prioritise areas requiring management, monitoring and/or protection 
What have we found? The cumulative risk assessment model is currently being built. The different pressures impacting the stock have been identified and their impact is being assessed. 
Who are our partners? DBCA

Health and diseases in the marine turtles of WA

What This project will investigate the health and disease status of marine turtle species found in Western Australian waters focusing on flatback turtles (Natator depressus). The first component to this research project is to establish a health and disease baseline for turtle species in Western Australia (WA), including establishing baseline blood chemistry reference ranges. Secondly it will assess the causes of morbidity and mortality of marine turtles in Western Australia, including assessing Spirorchiid (blood fluke) infection as a significant cause of mortality for all marine turtle species in WA.


Why In Western Australia there have been no scientific studies to assess causes of mortality and disease in marine turtle species at a regional scale. The results from these studies provide essential information on pressures that impact individual stocks in the region and provide avenues for direct management action.
What have we found? This project is still underway. Most field work is now completed with over 80 necropsies performed and over 200 samples of blood collected from a combination of nesting and foraging flatback turtles.
Who are our partners? DBCA, Murdoch University

Increasing knowledge of marine turtles in the Kimberley

What? To increase knowledge of marine turtles in the Kimberley by mapping spatial and temporal distribution, defining genetic stocks, predicting potential impacts of climate change and using both western science and traditional knowledge.


Why? The Kimberley has around 12000 km of coastline and 2500 islands. There is a lack of fundamental marine turtle knowledge including the locations and timing of nesting by each species. In addition, the there is lack of genetic samples from this region for stock analyses of green and flatback turtles which will provide better insight into stock boundaries. This project is timely and will assist the managers of the four new marine parks to prioritise turtle research and monitoring throughout the Kimberley.
What have we found?  There is widespread and diffuse nesting throughout the Kimberley, but the three major aggregations are winter flatbacks at Cape Domett, summer green turtle nesting at the Lacepede Islands, and summer flatback rookeries at Eighty Mile Beach. There are five flatback genetic stocks in WA, three of which are newly described. Climate models and incubation results indicate winter flatback rookeries are more susceptible to climate change than summer flatback rookeries.

Who are our partners? DBCA offices in Kununurra and Broome, University of Western Australia, CSIRO, Griffith University, Pendoley Environmental, Traditional Owners and managers represented in Miriuwung-Gajerrong, Balanggarra, Wunambal-Gaamberra, Dambimangarri, Mayala, Bardi-Jawi, Nyul Nyul, Yawuru, KariJarri, Nyangumarta, Ngarla, Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science Project.

North West Shelf Flatback Turtle Conservation Program

What? The status and trends of flatback turtles are understood by an ongoing monitoring program for the North West Shelf population stock and related stocks within Western Australia


Why? The Barrow Island and Mundabullungana rookeries are monitored by Chevron within the genetic stock.  Parallel monitoring  studies of the same genetic stock by DBCA are conducted at Thevenard and Delambre Islands.  Other flatback genetic stocks are monitored with collaborators at Port Hedland, Eighty Mile Beach, Ecobeach, Cable Beach, and Cape Domett to know how the species fares in general within WA boundaries
What have we found? The NWS flatback stock is genetically defined by the rookeries between Exmouth through Port Hedland. 
Who are our partners? Chevron, Pendoley Environmental, Mackeral Island Resorts, Rio Tinto, Care for Hedland, Conservation Volunteers Australia, DBCA and Marine Park office in Exmouth, Karatha, Broome, and Kununurra