WWF Australia Marine Turtle Program - Ningaloo (Western Australia) and Arafura (Northern Territory/Torres Strait) regions
Through a WildlifeLink Grant, the Foundation is currently sponsoring a 3 year WWF Australia program to:
- Increase the knowledge of the complex biology of turtles which is critical to the development of management strategies for turtle conservation by:
analysing turtle genetics in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria to identify distinct management populations
satellite tracking turtles to identify links between foraging and nesting grounds, and helping government agencies to conduct autopsies on sick or injured turtles to identify cause of ailment
monitoring beaches in the Ningaloo region using volunteers trained to identify the tracks of different turtle species.  Information collected will be used to determine nesting numbers, nesting success and hatching success over time
- Reduce the number of turtles dying through human impact by:
working with the aboriginal communities to conduct marine debris surveys to identify sources of discarded fishing nets, and releasing injured wildlife entangled in the nets
working with the Ningaloo community and the rapidly expanding tourism industry to minimise the impact of increasing human presence on the turtle population, through the production of turtle watching protocols and production of educational material for distribution to locals, tour operators and tourists
- Build the ability of local and indigenous people to manage turtles in their region by:
working with aboriginal organisations to allow a better understanding of turtle biology and to build their capacity by providing training and equipment to enable them to conduct research and implement management practices
developing and providing training and support to indigenous Sea Ranger programs
Marine turtles are internationally recognised as species of conservation concern.  Of the six species that are found in Australian waters, four (the Green, Leatherback, Hawkesbill and Flatback turtles) are listed as vulnerable, and the other two (Logerhead and Olive Ridley) are listed as endangered under the Australian Government's EPBC Act.
Discarded fishing nets and other marine debris are a significant threat to turtle populations, and to other marine species such as dolphins and whales.  The nets cause fatal entanglements and ingesting plastic rubbish such as bottles and thongs has also been known to kill turtles.
Other threats to turtle species include the human impact of inappropriate and unregulated tourism.
Research in the Arafura region is directed by WWF's Darwin office, and in Ningaloo by the WWF Perth office, greatly assisted by volunteers and peoples of the regions.
WildlifeLink is proud to sponsor this worthwhile research and conservation project.
For more information go to the WWF Australia site at www.wwf.org.au