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Australian turtle tracking aids understanding and conservation

Australian turtle tracking aids understanding and conservation
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Marine turtles are among the most endangered species on the planet.

In an attempt to assist in the preservation of these unique creatures researchers at the James Cook University in Australia are involved in a project to track the movements of baby flatback turtles.

To follow the turtles as they navigate the Great Barrier Reef scientists fix a GPS tracking device, weighing 100 grammes to the young reptiles.

The turtles are then released into the ocean and monitored by the research team.

Mark Hamann is from the James Cook University: “As the turtle comes to the surface, the little tag will be attached to its back and it will get a signal, we can download that data from the internet and we can figure out the locations and where the turtle’s going.”

Prof Hamann said the GPS data helps them understand where the young turtles go during the early part of their life, where they live and how they use the ocean currents.

Julia Dunn, one of the research team continues:“We don’t really even know what threats are affecting them the most, and we don’t know what they’re doing at all, so it’s this big mystery that we really need to solve in order to get our conservation on the right level.”

The young turtles are exposed to predators, fishing gear and the destruction of habitat. Scientists believe an understanding of the turtles movement, behaviour and how they relate to the environment will assist in marine turtle conservation.