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Marine Turtles


Key biological indices required to understand and manage nesting marine turtles along the Kimberley coast

Other Details: 

Kimberley Marine Research Program: Project 1.2.2
Location: Kimberley Coast
Project Leader: Scott Whiting, DBCA
Telephone: 9219 9752

Project Summary Update

Projects Aims

  • Identify when and where turtles nest in the Kimberley
  • Develop climate change models to predict how turtles might be impacted
  • Work out relationships between different turtle nesting groups (genetics)

Proposed Methods

  • Record and photograph nesting along the Kimberley coast during the wet and dry season from the air using a small plane and a special digital camera
  • Visit beaches and islands to verify the aerial survey records and collect information on species, size and hatching success (select beaches in west, central and eastern Kimberley)
  • Deploy weather stations and loggers to measure nest temperatures to enable prediction of impacts to turtles through climate change
  • Collect a piece of skin from turtles to work out relationships between groups of nesting turtles
  • Work in collaboration/partnership with Indigenous communities in the Kimberley including training with some funds available for engagement and training

Project Duration 2013-2016

Proposed location for the project

  • Aerial flights over the entire Kimberley Coast
  • Visit beaches in the western central and eastern Kimberley to deploy temperature loggers and count track and collect information on feral animals and hatching success


  • Better overall knowledge of where and when turtles nest to enable impacts to be managed (developments, tourism etc.)
  • Provide a knowledge base to allow monitoring of turtles into the future – information to help understand if populations are going up or down
  • Develop effective and efficient monitoring methods that can be conducted over the long-term
  • Prediction of impacts of climate change
  • Define management units (what scale should management be aimed at)
  • Build capacity amongst Indigenous rangers groups to allow ongoing monitoring opportunities

Longer term goals beyond the life of the project

To develop a long term monitoring program in the Kimberley in cooperation and partnership with Indigenous groups.

Related Links:

2017 Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles in Australia

Research Articles

T Tucker, S Whiting, N Mitchell, O Berry, N FitzSimmons, K Pendoley The Kimberley Marine Turtle Project under the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) Proceedings of the Second Australian and Second Western Australian Marine Turtle Symposia Perth 25-27 August 2014 Page 79


Whiting S, Tucker T, Berry O. Key biological indices required to understand and manage nesting sea turtles along the Kimberley coast. 2017 WAMSI Research Conference (video of presentationPresentation slides

Science on the Broome Coast: Sea Turtle: Iconic ambassadors linking marine habitats, cultures and regions on north WA

This is where the link will jump to

WAMSI KMRP Lunch and Learn - Key biological indices required to understand and manage nesting sea turtles along the Kimberley coast - Scott Whiting (DBCA), Tony Tucker (DBCA), Oliver Berry (CSIRO) Nicki Mitchell (UWA) (19 Oct 2017) (presentation slides)  (Audio)


  1. New genetic stocks of turtles defined in the Kimberley (WAMSI Bulletin June 2017)
  2. Beaches viewed from above helping to tell Kimberley turtle story (Parks and Wildlife)
  3. Turtles face climate change threat as warming beaches turn eggs female (ABC online)
  4. Turtles face climate change threat as warming beaches turn eggs female (ABC TV News)
  5. Premier briefed on Kimberley marine research projects (WAMSI)
  6. Field trip finds turtle and fish food abundant in Bardi Jawi country (WAMSI)
  7. Bardi Jawi Rangers turtle tagging expedition (KLC)
  8. Secrets of the green sea turtle revealed (WAMSI)
  9. Dr Oliver Berry talks on ABC Kimberley radio