Turtle Conservation Program Update
Government grants and private sector financial support for the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program (GTCP) (mainly from Gnaraloo Station and the Australian Government) ended last year on 30 June 2018.
Despite huge efforts to engage the State and Federal Government and the corporate sector, we were unable to secure any funding to undertake turtle field work at Gnaraloo from 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2019.
This has the following repercussions:
• The consecutive 30-year baseline data set of nesting activities by loggerhead sea turtles in the Gnaraloo Bay Rookery is now broken.
• The GTCP research field teams are no longer onsite to rescue stranded female sea turtles during the nesting period.
• The GTCP research field teams are no longer onsite to monitor and record the impact of feral animals on turtle nests, including the possible return of European red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in future. With no scientists observing and reporting daily on turtle nest predation, it is likely to return to its previously high levels, where almost 100% of nests were lost in locations of feral animal activity. This severely impacts turtle numbers and may impact the Southeast Indian Ocean loggerhead management unit.
• The GTCP has ceased flipper tagging and satellite tagging. This valuable program revealed some scientific firsts and would have yielded more valuable data had it been funded.
• Education programs and survey excursions by the GTCP, which were provided at no cost to thousands of students, teachers and people at Gnaraloo, Australia – wide and globally through Skype-in-the-Classroom presentations have ceased. This was an important way of helping local communities understand how to minimise the impact of human activity on endangered sea turtles.
• The GWF no longer engages scientists from Australia and the world for turtle field work to train and give them entry points into the profession. This is a great loss to the industry and narrowing of the field.
• The GWF was also asked during September 2018 to prepare a proposal for a Dark Sky sanctuary at Gnaraloo, but due to a lack of funding, we could not develop or submit an application.
The GWF calls for a Dark Sky Sanctuary at Gnaraloo as dark skies protect turtle nesting sanctuary areas.
To try to continue the turtle monitoring program, the GWF met with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (WA) (DBCA) in September 2018 to provide a project overview, our 10 – year scientific findings and discuss the issues stated above. DBCA is required to manage sea turtles along the Ningaloo Coast as part of their legal mandate for the Ningaloo Marine Park. So we handed the previous turtle nesting track survey work at Gnaraloo (2008 – 2018) by the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program to them and we encouraged them to take over the surveys at Gnaraloo as an extension of the work and resources of their Ningaloo Turtle Program in Exmouth. DBCA undertook some spot patrols of turtle nesting at Gnaraloo during 2018/19, details of which have not been provided to the GWF.
To generate revenue from new sources, the GWF Committee has launched two new initiatives: “Be A Gnaraloo Friend” and “Satellite tracking sponsorships”. However, these programs have not yet generated sufficient funds for us to continue our turtle field activities.
We will continue to focus on community education as the most effective way to protect the endangered sea turtles in the short term. This is funding dependent.
The GWF calls for Gnaraloo Bay and Gnaraloo Cape Farquhar to be recognized in legislation as turtle nesting sanctuaries.
Thirteen years of funding and support
Despite direct and repeated requests for support, the GWF has not received help from Government (State or Federal) for continued sea turtle field work (in any form) at Gnaraloo during the field season 2018/19. In the absence of sufficient funds, the GWF could not undertake a turtle field season at Gnaraloo during 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2019.
It is truly remarkable what has been achieved by:
– our Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program (2008-2018),
– our Gnaraloo Feral Animal Control Program (2008-2015) and
– our Gnaraloo Reduce Reuse and Recycle Program.
Please have a look at the financial tables for the previous contributions made to the Gnaraloo turtle work.
Update on our tax application
With help of a generous sponsor, we are now able to progress our application for the GWF to be approved by the Australian Taxation Office to receive tax deductible gifts, such as financial donations and tax deductible contributions. More on this development later!