Protecting Hedland's Flatback turtles

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The Care For Hedland Environmental Association’s volunteer turtle monitoring program has been supported by BHP Billiton Iron Ore’s Community Development Program since 2006. The program sees dozens of volunteers trained in identifying turtle nesting tracks and guiding volunteers to collect important information on nesting behaviours and environmental matters.

The program focuses on the resident Flatback Turtle, which frequents and nests at Cemetery and Pretty Pool Beaches. This information and data collected on other turtle species frequenting the area, is fed into a wider marine turtle-monitoring program that extends from Shark Bay to the Kimberley.

Care For Hedland Environmental Association Coordinator, Bridgette Poulton said the volunteer turtle monitoring program provides a way for the community to get involved in the protection of a threatened species and its habitat, with the information collected used for educational awareness publications and species monitoring.

“One of our key aims is to raise community awareness of Flatback Turtles and the threats to its survival amongst local community and tourists,” Bridgette said.

Bridgette said the program, which has been monitoring nesting turtles in Port Hedland for 11 years, also documents the impacts of human interaction, including lighting and off road interactions, on nesting turtles, which is critical to support ongoing education programs in the community.

“Education programs extend beyond just the nesting season. In order to protect the threatened and data deficient turtle species, we work to educate tourists and the local community on relevant environmental issues.”