WWF helping to protect turtles from goannas

Turtle

Scientists are working at Wreck Rock Beach in Queensland, Australia to protect the eggs of endangered loggerhead turtles eggs from being eaten by goannas.

Wreck Rock Beach is the second largest mainland nesting site for loggerhead turtles in the South Pacific Ocean with over 70 females nesting at this site.

A number of trials have been conducted aiming to discover a solution and have fitted the goannas with GPS tracking devices to help with their research. Sarrane Giudice of the Burnett Mary Regional Group explained, “Visitors to Wreck Rock may see goannas that are part of the research project marked with numbers or a GPS device, however these do not stay on the animals for long and are not harmful.”

“Our region has a crucial role as guardians of a major nesting site for endangered loggerheads. We’ll keep working hard with our partners to give these magnificent creatures a chance to survive into the future.”

Turtle

While a principal threat to the turtles used to be foxes their impact has been reduced by baiting. Unfortunately yellow spotted goannas have taken them over and are eating thousands of eggs and hatchlings at the beach year.

Trials have been conducted to see if excluder devices such as pepper and red flags would help deter the predators.

This has seen success overseas but it does not appear to have worked here as Dr David Booth, a scientist with the University of Queensland said, “Unfortunately, initial testing at Wreck Rock Beach has shown that pepper and flags are not particularly successful against goannas.”

Last year a World Wildlife Fund-Australia supported trial saw volunteers placing aluminium cages over the nests to keep goannas out. This initiative saved 1200 turtles but was inefficient taking 20 minutes to install.

Turtle

This year $1800,000 in funding has come from the Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection program which is a joint Queensland and Australian government initiative helping to stop turtle predation. It will see a piece of plastic mesh placed over the nests.

It has already had promising results as Dr Booth explained, “It’s lighter and much easier to transport and install than the aluminium cage and if it is set up properly on top of a nest and covered in sand it is effective at stopping goannas.”

Loggerhead turtles are endangered in the wild due to entanglement in fishing gear boat strikes, ingesting marine debris and predation.

WWF-Australia spokesperson, Christine Hof pointed out their importance to an Australian icon, “A healthy Great Barrier Reef needs healthy populations of marine turtles. Helping loggerheads and other marine turtle species recover is a top priority for WWF.”

Photo Credits:

Top By AlejandroLinaresGarcia (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom By Greg Hume (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Cale Russell

TheAnimalFacts.com is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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