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Final Field Trip for Four-Year Turtle Study

A four-year long study on green turtles in the Gladstone Harbour is coming to an end, with turtle researchers completing their last round of field work this week.

Led by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) as part of the Gladstone Ports Corporation’s Ecosystem Research and Monitoring Program (ERMP), the project has provided a wealth of information on green turtles in the area.

DES Chief Scientist and ERMP Advisory Panel member Dr Col Limpus said more than 1,500 green turtles had been assessed since 2016.

“We have been conducting four field trips per year, tagging and assessing around 400 turtles during each trip,” Dr Limpus said.

“This has given us significant data to track the long-term health of green turtles, their habitat use and foraging behaviours in the Gladstone Harbour.” 

GPC Acting CEO Craig Walker said the monitoring program had helped provide an understanding of green turtle habitats within the port. 

“At GPC, we are committed to responsibly managing our port facilities in an environmentally sustainable manner,” Mr Walker said.

“That’s why monitoring programs like this are so important in providing data for us to understand the ecosystems in which we operate so we can minimise environmental impacts.”  

The ERMP is a 10-year program, which commenced in 2011 and includes a variety of environmental monitoring programs on the health of Port Curtis and Port Alma ecosystems, overseen by a panel of marine experts who provide advice on the potential impacts of port activities.

ERMP Chairperson Chris Crossland said the information collated is used to monitor, manage and improve the marine environment and offset any impacts on listed threatened and migratory species and the values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

“The ERMP projects are significantly improving our knowledge base on foraging green turtles, nesting flatback turtles, dolphins, dugongs, migratory shorebirds and tidal wetlands in the Port Curtis and Port Alma regions,” Dr Crossland said.

The monitoring program involved participation from researchers, students, local turtle volunteers and the Gidarjil rangers.

The final research report with results from the four-year research program is set to be released in 2020.