Do you fish, surf, spear-fish, snorkel, dive, swim or do anything related to the ocean around the bottom half of Australia? Seen any sea turtles? Recently when chatting to PhD Candidate Rochelle Ferris I found out these turtle observations are really useful!
Rochelle Ferris is specialist turtle researcher from James Cook University who is trying to better understand the range of turtles in Australia—That is, where they are found and where they move. Something you might think we have a good grasp of…we don’t! Especially outside what is considered their “tropical range”.
Rochelle: “Sea turtles spend many stages of their lives inhabiting inshore shallow reef habitat seeking food, shelter and mates. Subtropical reefs are predicted to be refuges for numerous tropical reef species that may become displaced from damaged tropical reef systems. Subtropical reefs are important as ecological indicators and biodiversity buffers, therefore requiring conservation priority. However, ecological data is lacking and covering a large area is expensive and time consuming”.
That is where the public comes in. Citizen scientists doing their thing are encouraged to provide their observations to help with this important research!
“To increase our understanding of habitat use by sea turtles in the subtropical waters of Australia (NSW, Vic, SA, Tas and southern WA) I’m conducting a public survey of sea turtle sightings. The results of this survey will add value to our knowledge of where and how extensive sea turtle populations extend into subtropical waters, and better prepare us to measure and respond to change in those factors into the future” – Rochelle.
I see turtles fairly often on the South Coast of NSW and I am sure lots of other people see them south of Queensland too (and on the other side of OZ too). If you have seen them or see them again, it would be really great (and super appreciated) if you let Rochelle know here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Sea_Turtles_Southern_Australia . Let us know if you log one too just out of interest!