Tracing origins, resource use and movements of green turtles in NSW

This study is using genetic and stable isotope analysis to determine the breeding origin of green turtles found in NSW waters and to identify foraging hotspots along the NSW coast.

Green turtles are listed globally as Endangered by the IUCN and are one of Taronga’s Legacy species. To date, research on marine turtles has focussed on natal breeding sites in Queensland, neglecting important resting and foraging grounds in NSW.

Receiving an average of 40 marine turtles annually, Taronga Wildlife Hospital (TWH) has successfully released rehabilitated green turtles with satellite trackers to discover where they go and assess their survivability upon release. In addition, TWH and the Australian Registry of Wildlife Health have collected over 200 green turtle samples from health investigations over the last decade. Using these samples and the satellite tracking data, this project will use the latest scientific techniques to identify important foraging and resting sites along the NSW coast and examine connectivity between natal breeding sites and foraging sites. This knowledge is crucial to understand turtle ecology and to assess the impact of threatening processes (e.g. plastic ingestion, entanglements, disease, boat strikes) on green turtle breeding stocks. This will in turn assist in the development of more effective management strategies for the conservation of this migratory species.