Minister for the Great Barrier Reef Dr Steven Miles has announced a new website will offer a 'turtle-eye' view of a special world few people get to see on the Reef.
Dr Miles said the website highlighted the ground-breaking work being undertaken on remote Raine Island, the breeding ground for one of the world’s largest populations of green turtles.
“The new website offers a unique insight into one of the world’s most spectacular animal migrations that has occurred at Raine Island for more than 1,000 years,” said Dr Miles, who met with representatives from BHP Billiton, the Wuthathi Nation and the Kemer Kemer Meriam Nation (Ugar, Mer, Erub) Traditional Owners and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation at Raine Island on Thursday 9 February 2017.
“I got to see first-hand the encouraging results being achieved by the Raine Island Recovery Project in ensuring the island’s long term sustainability.
“But now, people from all over the world can access through the website new images, videos and information about Raine Island’s green turtles, sea birds and tiger sharks and the important work being done to protect them through the Raine Island Recovery Project.
“During the nesting season, as many as 60,000 female green turtles swim thousands of kilometres to lay their eggs at the remote turtle sanctuary that is Raine Island,” Dr Miles said.
The Raine Island Recovery Project is a five-year, $7.95 million collaboration between BHP Billiton, the Queensland Government, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Wuthathi Nation and the Kemer Kemer Meriam Nation (Ugar, Mer, Erub) Traditional Owners and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Lloyd Maza of Kemer Kemer Meriam Nation said the website highlights the positive results already being achieved in the early stages of the project.
“Clifftop fencing has continued to save turtles’ lives by preventing adult female turtles that have wandered into the centre of the island from falling off the cliff edges,” Mr Maza said.
“Previously, this was a major cause of death as turtles would become trapped on their backs after falling off the steep cliffs created by erosion.
“It is estimated the 1100 metres of fencing installed to date has prevented more than 400 deaths since the concept was first trialled in 2011.
“It is fantastic to see the collaboration between all the partners on the project, working together to protect this important green turtle nesting site.”
BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) Asset President Rag Udd said the plight of the internationally endangered green turtle is of great interest to people both in Australia and worldwide.
“The Raine Island Recovery Project is an exciting example of business, governments, Traditional Owners and not for profits working together to protect the Great Barrier Reef, in this case the remarkable ecosystem of Raine Island,” Mr Udd said.
“By sharing the project’s updates, research data and results through this new website and other channels, we hope the project not only has a positive impact on the future sustainability of Raine Island and its marine residents, but that it also inspires others to take an active role in helping to protect the Reef.”
Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said the project’s active program of research expeditions was continuing to gather new information that will be used to help inform the adaptive management program for Raine Island.
“As well as tagging 521 turtles on a recent expedition to Raine Island and nearby Moulter Cay late last year, researchers found the dry sand conditions made it difficult for turtles to dig egg chambers which contributes to low nesting success,” Ms Marsden said.
“During the 18-day field trip, researchers and Traditional Owners mapped 170 nests at Raine Island and 60 nests at Moulter Cay. These will be excavated in early February to help determine hatching success in these conditions.
“A total of 1800 turtles have been tagged so far across this nesting season, with 185 of those being turtles tagged in previous seasons, so the team is building more information about the turtles’ migration and nesting patterns.
“Tagging allows the researchers to closely monitor the resilience of the internationally significant green turtle population that nests on the island.
“Great work is being done here and I hope that everyone takes an interest in discovering more about Raine Island and this important project by regularly visiting the website at www.qld.gov.au/raineisland.”
The final research trip to Raine Island for the current green turtle nesting season is in April 2017. Find out more about the Raine Island Recovery Project at www.qld.gov.au/raineisland