A good year for the turtles
A good year for the turtles

The flatback turtle season is off to a good start with conservationists saying record numbers of turtles are accessing Hedland’s beaches to lay their eggs.

It is the first year the environmental group has been tasked with tagging turtles in Hedland.

Fifty four turtles were recorded in the first seven days of monitoring.

Conservation Volunteers national marine species manager Glenn McFarlane said Cemetery Beach was a very important nesting rookery.

“To see such a large population for the start of the season is a good start,” he said.

Mr McFarlane, from Darwin, and Broome-based Anne Mueller visit the beach every night with a group of volunteers to tag and microchip flatback turtles nesting on the beach.

It is a process Mr McFarlane says is essential to monitoring numbers and movements of the species.

“The morning monitoring program has traditionally recorded nesting activity from the previous night, however, some turtles come to the beach two, maybe three times a night,” he said.

“By tagging the individual and being at the same place at the same time every year, it helps us identify the number of turtles that come to the beach to nest.”

The tagging process starts by restraining the turtle from the front after she has nested and if untagged, a microchip is inserted and flipper tags attached.

Measurements are also taken of the body and observations are made to see the condition of the turtle, before she is released back into the ocean.

“The idea is to tag as many individuals and after a few years we can see if the population is decreasing, staying firm or increasing,” Mr McFarlane said.

Volunteers are needed to assist with turtle tagging. Contact Care for Hedland Environmental Association at turtleph@hotmail.com.

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