Sea Turtle Foundation is a non-profit, non-government group based in Australia working to protect sea turtles through research, education and action.
Turtles have seen the Earth undergo many changes over time and managed to survive them all. However, things are tough in the modern era when you are a slow breeding, long-lived reptile.
Turtles face many threats from changes in climate, loss of nesting habitat, increased ocean pollution, and deliberate and accidental deaths caused by fishing activities around the world. These factors combined are pushing many of the world's populations of sea turtles toward extinction.
Sea Turtle Foundation is working to address these threats through rescuing stranded turtles in North Queensland, training others to respond to strandings, providing educational programs for schools and communities and supporting research into turtle health and ecology throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
It is no coincidence that these beautiful and charismatic animals are the photogenic face of so many tourism brochures and environmental campaigns. Besides being iconic symbols of our ocean environment, sea turtles fulfil vital functions in ocean ecosystems. The time has come for us to protect sea turtles and rebuild their populations to healthy and sustainable levels as a vital step in ensuring healthy and resilient oceans for the future.
Sea Turtle Foundation has a mission to:
"Safeguard sea turtle populations, migration routes and habitats, and support activities that increase sea turtle numbers worldwide."
Sea Turtle Foundation was formed back in 2001 when a group of turtle biologists and concerned volunteers formed the 'Indo-Pacific Sea Turtle Conservation Group'. Their initial goal was to address research gaps and develop strategies to reduce threats to sea turtles in the north Queensland region. In 2007, the group became a formal company and changed its name to the Sea Turtle Foundation. In the ensuing years, Sea Turtle Foundation has expanded its activities to a national and international level and continues to grow, completing projects based on our three focus areas: Research, Education, and Action.
Sea Turtle Foundation is involved in several research projects that will improve our understanding of the sea turtle life cycle. The greater our knowledge of the sea turtle life cycle, the better able we will be to reduce threats and implement effective management strategies.
Sea Turtle Foundation is currently, or has previously been involved in the following research projects:
- Seagrass monitoring in the northern Great Barrier Reef
- Satellite tracking of hawksbill turtles nesting in the Torres Strait
- Nesting Monitoring at AIMS Beach (Townsville, QLD)
- Cleveland Bay Acoustic Tracking (Townsville, QLD)
- Milman Island: Climate change impacts on Hawksbill turtles on Milman Island, northern Great Barrier Reef, Australia
- Raine Island: Inter-nesting patterns and migration pathways of Green turtles at Raine Island
Papua New Guinea Sea Turtle & Dugong Awareness Program
Sea Turtle Foundation has worked with 13 communities in the Western Province, PNG, to educate hunters, students and community members about the threats facing their local populations of turtles and dugongs.
Turtles for Tomorrow calendar
Sea Turtle Foundation do various activities with students in schools to learn about the issues faced by sea turtles today. This has included producing calendars with Townsville school students in 2010 and photography from research projects for an educational calendar in 2012. A calendar for 2013 featured photography from the PNG Western Province communities participating in the Sea Turtle and Dugong Awareness Program.
Sea Turtle Foundation’s Education Officers bring the sea turtle story into the classroom.
Sea Turtle Foundation runs community training days for activities such as stranding response and marine debris monitoring.
Turtle Trials – the story of a sea turtle’s migration (DVD)
Swimming silently beneath the waves, a female sea turtle begins her epic migration to nest on a beach far away. However, what should be a journey of hope is fraught with danger…’ Sea Turtle Foundation have produced an educational 12 min DVD about a sea turtle’s migration and the dangers encountered along the way.
Sea Turtle Foundation takes action to protect sea turtles, such as responding to stranded turtle calls, raising alerts over potential impacts and ensuring authorities are aware when their activities are harmful to sea turtles.
Community members can make a real difference by supporting Sea Turtle Foundation’s projects and by making small changes at home and work that can make a real difference. Current action projects include:
- Stranding Response – Sick, injured or dead turtles often wash up on beaches; our volunteers assist authorities in responding to and collecting data from stranding events.
- Marine Debris – Thousands of sea turtles die every year from marine debris.
- Coastal Lights – Inappropriate coastal lighting disturbs nesting females and sends hatchlings the wrong way.
- Townsville Powerboat Race – Powerful boats at high speed over grazing turtles feeding on the valuable seagrass beds and the dugong protection area in Cleveland Bay is not a good mix.
- Community Events – Raising awareness of our activities and letting the public know how to get involved is part of our action strategy–come along and show your support for sea turtles!