The presence of flatback turtles in Hedland gives a unique opportunity for the community and visitors to the area to be actively involved in contributing to the monitoring of the protected species.
Flatback sea turtles nest only on Australian beaches and have the shortest migratory range of all sea turtles. There is currently limited population data available on the species highlighting the importance of the Care for Hedland monitoring program. This program is a part of a wider turtle monitoring project encompassing nesting rookeries from Shark Bay in the south, up to the Kimberly.
The Hedland turtle monitoring program operates from October to March each year in correlation with the annual flatback migration to the coastline for the nesting and hatchling seasons (Nesting season: October – January. Hatchling season: December – March).
The turtle monitoring program has two key goals:
1. To educate and bring awareness of the local flatback turtle species and encourage positive methods for human interaction with the species.
2. To collect data concerning flatback turtle activity at the Cemetery Beach and Pretty Pool Beach nesting sites that will be used to provide an indication of the nesting and hatchling populations at Hedland; as well as to best guide management plans for the area.
The program uses a non-invasive approach to obtain monitoring data through conducting early morning beach patrols assessing turtle tracks and sand patterns. Laid and hatched nest locations are recorded using a GPS and additional turtle as well as predator activity is also documented.