While visiting Broome, activists who welcomed me to town also shared photographs of sea turtles in the shallows below
James Price Point - Walmadany and tracks on the adjacent beaches. (Photo of green turtle at James Price Point by Rod Hartvigsen, http://www.murranji.com.au/)
When local activists took me into this country to see the site, I was stunned by the red rock
cliffs, white sand beaches and aquamarine waters. I viewed shell mounds
and rock shards utilized by indigenous people in the past and saw where
today people camp and fish. (Photo of green turtle in rock pool below
Walmadany is by Damien Hirsch. Photo below is of Teri Shore at NO
GAS sign posted at James Price Point)
times, marine turtles have relied on the remote beaches and coastal
waters of Western Australia to complete their long life cycle.
is unique because it is the only marine turtle to nest only in
Australia. Unlike other species, the flatback is thought to spend its
entire life in the nearshore waters of the continental shelf, rarely if
ever swimming far into the deep ocean.
The flatback distinguishes
itself by laying eggs nearly as large as the mighty leatherback,
producing the biggest, fastest and strongest diving hatchlings of all.
Each turtle lays 3 to 5 or more clutches of about 50 eggs each season Ė
about half that of the 100 or more eggs typically laid by other
species. The flatback hatchling is also beautiful with dark outlining
on its shell and piercing blue eyes. Perhaps one in a thousand or less
of those hatchlings will return to its natal beach to nest 25 or 30
years later. (Photo of turtle tracks at James Price Point - Walmadany
taken by Red Handed/handsoffcountry.blogspot.com).
Sea turtle researchers have determined that flatbacks nesting in Western
Australia are genetically distinct from those in other regions. They
donít interbreed, even though they may share feeding areas at times.
turtle patrols and monitoring initiated by Conservation Volunteers
Australia in the Kimberley region over the past few years have
documented flatbacks nesting in Cable Beach (15 to 50 nests per year),
Eco Beach (100 to 150 nests), and 80 Mile Beach (400 to 500 nests).
Flatbacks also nest in significant numbers at Port Hedland and on
Barrow Island - site of the impending Chevron Gorgon project.
Satellite tagging of females after
nesting has revealed that flatbacks, greens and loggerheads nesting in
the Pilbara head north to feed in the waters of the Kimberley.
The tracks can be viewed on the website www.seaturtle.org, which requires registration but is open to the public.
Please help protect these sea turtles by writing a letter to Chevron and by donating to our campaign to protect the Australian flatback and the Kimberley.