Australian Government National Landcare Program: Regional Land Partnerships
* Turtlecare Volunteers Qld
* Lady Musgrave Island Study
* Lower Mary River Land and Catchment Care Group
* Gidarjil Land and Sea Rangers
* Bargara Beaches Turtle Monitoring Volunteers
* Oaks Beach Turtle Monitoring Volunteers
Six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles occur in Australian waters and are protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Three are endangered-loggerhead, olive ridley, leatherback turtles- while another three are vulnerable-green flatback and hawksbill turtles.
Turtle nesting numbers have observed a decline since European settlement. In more recent decades, the decline has continued with contemporary threats including habitat degradation, fisheries bycatch, nest predation and marine debris. Habitat damage has arisen through grazing stock and the introduction of exotic pest species which have added to pollutants in wetland and saltmarsh habitats. Introduced grazing animals threaten the ecological character of the Subtropical and Temperate Coastal Saltmarsh (STCS) site through degradation of native species nesting and roosting sites, habitat modification and destruction, the transmission of disease, and competition for resources.
The Saltmarsh and Marine Turtle Monitoring project aims to conserve outstanding universal values of World Heritage properties.
Marine turtle populations are under threat due to predation, human impact (habitat modification, light pollution and recreational activities), injury and fatality to vertebrate marine life caused by ingestion of, or entanglement in, harmful marine debris. Land degradation particularly from the impacts of stock (vegetation and habitat changes, soil compaction, sedimentation and turbidity, nutrient inputs) threatens the health and ecosystem services of Subtropical and Temperate Coastal Saltmarsh communities. A lack of long-term monitoring data can make the impact of threats at the species and population level difficult to determine due to the long and migratory lifecycle of marine turtles.
Long-term monitoring of the trajectory of marine turtle species and hatchling success rates will be maintained through twenty volunteer groups at Sandy Cape (Fraser Island), Wreck Rock (Deepwater National Park), Lady Musgrave Island, Moore Park Beach and Agnes Water beach. Active predator control and nest protection will be achieved through volunteers nightly patrolling the beach and rookeries to tag, identify and record information from individual turtles and assess and record the success of nesting activities. On-ground actions such as the installation of wildlife-friendly fencing will be installed, a total of 10 kilometres, to protect 200 hectares of the Subtropical and Temperate Coastal Saltmarsh sites from the threats of introduced and exotic pest species and conserve the ecological character. Marine debris removal and surveys will be carried out across 40 hectares of the subtropical and temperate coastal saltmarsh and marine turtle rookery sites.
The Saltmarsh and Marine Turtle Monitoring project aims to conserve outstanding universal values of World Heritage properties through 3 primary activities:
* Controlling livestock access to STCS
* Maintaining marine turtle monitoring
* Public education of marine debris consumption, pollution and resolution
Through education, public awareness, and community involvement to actively mitigate threatening processes to marine turtles (marine debris, terrestrial predation, light pollution, and recreational activities) this program will also record the success of turtle nesting activities, and determination of emergency interventions and emergence success rates.
Work Done to Date:
This project continues to build on decades of collaborative partnerships across government and community volunteer groups, improving the incubation success of turtle eggs in Queensland through active predator control and other nest protection measures. Successful ongoing monitoring programs with numerous community volunteer groups each nesting and hatchling season (November to March) have been maintained. Community education and engagement programs have been delivered to increase volunteer participation to build knowledge and recourses within the community. Furthermore, this program has enhanced and augmented existing Traditional Owner and local community engagement and participation in turtle nest protection and predator control to increase the survivability of marine turtle clutches of eggs and hatchlings.
As this program moves into its final year of continued marine turtle monitoring regimes, saltmarsh protection will have a strong focus through a Property Management Plan for an engaged landholder near Bustard Bay. In order to protect STCS fringing private property, access to wetlands from cattle will be controlled with fencing, an offsite watering point installed and weed control. Continued public education on the impacts of marine debris through a community and stakeholder event will raise issues of the impacts of plastic debris on Australian marine wildlife. A community and stakeholder event will be held to raise awareness around marine debris in STCS.