Ningaloo Turtle Programme
South Pacific Projects Director Howard Foster is currently visiting the Ningaloo Turtle Programme in Exmouth, Western Australia. He is assisting with the annual nesting survey, whilst developing links with the local community and Department of Environment & Conservation (DEC). Yesterday was spent training with one of their Nature Conservation Rangers and today was for some on-site training at one of the beaches where turtle rookeries are found. Despite not seeing any new nesting activity from last night, the Team Leader and local volunteers were lucky enough to come across five viable nests that were used to learn recognisable characteristics.
Howard originally visited Exmouth to volunteer on the turtle conservation programme back in 2006 and his experiences indirectly led to the creation of South Pacific Projects. So it was with some excitement that he came back to participate this season, yesterday meeting up with some Rangers and locals that he met during his previous visit. One thing that became immediately apparent was the commitment from the local community to actively particpate in the programme and manage it in collaboration with DEC to protect the turtle population.
Exmouth is a haven for eco-tourism, with large numbers of Whale Sharks visiting the fringing Ningaloo Reef from Easter onwards, then migrating Humpback Whales, followed by the turtle nesting season. The Ningaloo Reef is renowned for its healthy condition and incredible biodiversity, partly because it is 1,400km from Perth so not that many backpackers or tourists visit it, unlike the Great Barrier Reef which hosts huge numbers of visitors each year. There will be regular updates coming from Ningaloo and the turtle programme over the coming weeks and plenty of marine turtle stories, photos and information.