Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council again hosted an annually held turtle camp at Janie Creek, on western Cape York Peninsuala. During the camp, two Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtles, members of an endangerd species, were named, tagged and released back into the ocean. The turtles, dubbed ‘Linda and Nancy, in honour of two Cooktown sisters who now live in Mapoon, are equipped with tracking devices; their movements will provide rangers and scientists with information about the species, that nest on western Cape York shores.
The camp focused on training rangers in turtle physiology and behaviours, educating school students and the broader community, and providing important research opportunities for monitoring threatened turtle species.
Land and Sea Rangers from Mapoon, Apudthama, Napranum and Pormpuraaw attended afternoon training sessions, night sessions for tagging turtles and counting and measuring eggs, and morning sessions checking exisiting turtle nests for predation.
Some Flatback Turtles found nesting on the beach were carrying scientific identification tags, clearly marking them as regular or return visitors to the beach. Tagging is an international system, which enables rangers and scientists to monitor turtles worldwide and share data derived from the monitoring scheme. Olive Ridley Turtle nests are more prone to predation, than the nests of other species, as the eggs tend to be buried closer to the surface of the sand. Findings of the this year's program included information on predation, with wild dogs proving more frequent than pigs, as predator to turtle eggs. Rangers assisted hatchling survival by covering the nests with trellis-like material, as a deterant to predator digging.
Turtle hatchlings emerge in mid-late August and take three to seven days to dig their way out of the sand embedded nests. The hatchlings usually emerge and move toward the shoreline at night, under the cover of darkness. The Mapoon turtle camp included local school visits and continued to mid-September.