Joint media release: Protecting the world's largest green turtle population

2 August 2020

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
The Hon Warren Entsch MP, Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef


The Morrison Government has launched a $5.9 million Green Turtle Research and Protection Program to preserve and nurture the world’s largest green turtle population on the Great Barrier Reef.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said more than sixty thousand green turtles visit the beaches of the Northern Great Barrier Reef to lay their eggs each year, making this one of the most spectacular wildlife migrations on Earth.

"The Great Barrier Reef is home to more green turtles than anywhere else in the world," Ms Ley said.

"Green turtle hatchlings are highly sensitive to nest incubation temperatures – with warmer sand temperatures producing more female hatchlings – ultimately posing a threat to this iconic species".

"This innovative three-and-a-half-year research project will be coordinated by the Australian and Queensland governments, in close consultation with Traditional Owners and Indigenous rangers."

It will include:

  1. A broad-scale aerial survey of all potential nesting beaches in the northern Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, to map sites and improve our understanding of their importance
  2. Using satellite technology to track movement patterns to better understand where adult male green turtles feed in the northern Great Barrier Reef
  3. Field studies to better understand the health and functioning of key feeding grounds used by the northern Great Barrier Reef green turtle population
  4. Support for a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services pilot study at Mon Repos Conservation Park near Bundaberg to trial approaches to cooling turtle nesting beaches and restore the normal ratio of male and female hatchlings
  5. A dedicated outreach project to promote the results of the Raine Island Recovery Project through the Torres Strait and northern Great Barrier Reef, highlighting the impact of incubation temperature on hatchling gender and the importance of protecting adult males.

Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef Warren Entsch said the program will build on the Raine Island Recovery Project, which recently captured drone footage of thousands of marine turtles swimming off Raine Island and has improved reproductive success at this, the world’s largest green turtle rookery.

"The Great Barrier Reef is the best managed marine park in the world,” Mr Entsch said.

"Our $5.9 million program to protect green turtles in the Great Barrier Reef is part of our $1.9 billion investment to protect the Reef under the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, which is the centrepiece of Australia’s Reef protection efforts".

"The Morrison Government is deeply committed to protecting the World-Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. Our world-class Reef generates 64,000 jobs and contributes $6.4 billion to the national economy. We want to ensure the Reef's future for the benefit of all Australians, particularly communities in Queensland whose livelihoods depend on it."

For more information visit: http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/our-work/field-management/great-barrier-reef-green-turtle-research-program/_nocache

Footage of green turtles is available here: https://bit.ly/2ZBWm5B