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29 Aug 2011 09:52:22
To celebrate World Turtle Day 2011 on May 23, Sydney Aquarium Conservation Fund (SACF) today announced the launch of a turtle tagging project to raise awareness for the world's oldest creatures and the threats they face in the wild.
In an effort to monitor sea turtle species and identify hotspots for boat strikes - one of the biggest threats to marine turtle populations - satellite tags will be placed on sea turtles in the Port Stephens/Great Lakes Marine Park region from May 2011.
Two-year-old Green Sea Turtle, Sea Biscuit, was rescued by staff from Sydney Aquarium's sister venue Oceanworld Manly in 2009. The size of a 50c piece when she was found washed ashore on the Northern Beaches with a severely injured front flipper, Sea Biscuit has since recovered and is now thriving under the care of Oceanworld Manly staff. Due to the success of the rehabilitation program at Oceanworld Manly, the turtle tagging project will further monitor turtle movements to locate vulnerable spots where boat strikes are prevalent.
Rob Townsend, Oceanworld Manly Life Sciences Manager, commented: "When Sea Biscuit was first rescued by Oceanworld Manly she was so badly injured, she sadly lost her front left flipper. While she has since recovered and learnt to swim with her three remaining flippers, we have seen firsthand the real impact and issues involved in the rehabilitation of seriously injured turtles."
SACF Education and Research Manager, Claudette Rechtorik, added: "Injury from boat contact and propeller strikes is a serious threat to sea turtle species. Often boat skippers are travelling too fast and are unaware of the animal until it's too late.
"With all species of sea turtles endangered or vulnerable, we need to find solutions to the threats they face in the wild - plastic pollution is a big one, but injuries from boats is another that we should be able to avoid."
SACF will collaborate with the NSW Marine Parks Authority to tag the turtles, and research recovered from the project will be used to assist with boat usage regulations and speed limits should any vulnerable spots be identified. Previous mapping of boat strike hotspots has proved successful in helping to regulate watercraft usage. Moreton Bay Marine Park's 'turtle and dugong go-slow zone' was established following satellite tagging to help air breathing marine animals avoid being injured by boats.
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