Monitoring and protecting nesting beaches is critical for the successful conservation of sea turtles. Although some rookeries around the world are well studied, many other nesting aggregations, especially those in remote or undeveloped regions, remain poorly monitored.
Assessments by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) note that the loggerhead sea turtle species is now largely dependent on conservation efforts. The work by Gnaraloo to protect the loggerhead turtle nesting areas on its coastline helps to ensure the survival of loggerhead nests, eggs and hatchlings.
The Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program and the Gnaraloo Feral Animal Control Program target matters of National Environmental Significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Australia), namely:
• nationally significant species in the form of threatened fauna (endangered and vulnerable reptiles)
• key threatening processes (feral predation of turtle eggs and hatchlings).
The Gnaraloo rookeries are important mainland nesting areas for loggerheads in Western Australia.
The surveys by the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program conducted at Gnaraloo reveal that the southern extreme of the Ningaloo Coast contains significant and previously under-reported nesting aggregations of loggerhead species.
The Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program currently focuses on two high density turtle rookeries: the Gnaraloo Bay Rookery and the Gnaraloo Cape Farquhar Rookery where loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) are the primary nesting species. The Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program collects baseline data on sea turtle nesting activities along the Gnaraloo coastline. Its goal is to identify trends and required management to protect endangered marine species and critical coastal nesting habitat. The program also trains scientific and other professionals and engages the community and schools in conservation activities.
It is also home to species protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth), including:
• nationally threatened species and ecological communities (sea turtles and various bird species); and
• migratory species (sea turtles and various bird species).
Feral animal control
The Gnaraloo Feral Animal Control Program protects the coastal nesting rookeries of endangered sea turtles at Gnaraloo through minimizing feral animal predation of turtle eggs and hatchlings.
Sea turtle migrations
During the sea turtle nesting season 2015/16, the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program undertook the first ever satellite tracking of loggerhead females that nest on the Gnaraloo coastline.