Protecting turtles

Duration 00:02:07

Protecting turtles on the Great Barrier Reef.

The 2300km Great Barrier Reef is home to an abundance of wildlife with more than 1600 types of fish, 30 species of whales and dolphins, and 215 species of birds including 22 species of seabirds and 32 species of shorebirds. It is also home to marine turtle species which are experiencing a decline in their populations.

Marine scientists and conservationists are monitoring and undertaking action to protect marine turtles and their habitat.

On the Great Barrier Reef you can find six of the seven marine turtle species in the world. Unfortunately, four of these turtles are on the endangered species list (loggerhead, olive ridley, hawksbill and leatherback) and two are considered to be vulnerable (green and flatback).

The threat of predation on marine turtle nests and hatchlings is a key concern for the sustainability of turtle populations in coastal Queensland. To address this, marine turtle rookeries along the coast have been identified under the Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program for active nest protection and predator control efforts to reduce the threat posed by feral pigs and other predator species.

This is why the Queensland Government is working with research organisations, industry, conservationists and Traditional Owners to take action to protect marine turtle species across Queensland.


Raine Island on the northern most tip of the Great Barrier Reef is home to the world’s largest green turtle nesting population and the most important seabird rookery in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Each year variable numbers of female green turtles, from a few thousand to approaching 100,000, swim thousands of kilometres from their feeding grounds in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Arnhem Land, Gulf of Carpentaria, the Torres Strait and the Coral Sea Region, to Raine Island—at the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef—to lay their eggs on its sandy beach.

With the Raine Island ecosystem under threat and turtle deaths, varying from a few tens to thousands per breeding season, urgent action is being taken to protect the island’s marine wildlife and its habitat, particularly the nesting beaches of green turtles.

Now a collaboration of partners is working to help the green turtles. The Raine Island Recovery Project is a five year, $7.95 million public-private collaboration involving BHP, the Queensland Government, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Wuthathi and Kemer Kemer Meriam Nation (Ugar, Mer, Erub) Traditional Owners and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Find out more about what is being done to protect Raine Island’s precious ecosystem.

Endangered loggerhead turtles nest at Mon Repos in Bundaberg, home to the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific.

Queensland’s loggerhead turtle research program has been running for 50 years, focusing on the Mon Repos turtle rookery. Satellite technology is used to track turtle movements to understand migratory patterns and habitat under threat.

Visitors are welcome at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre to learn about loggerhead turtles and participate in a guided turtle encounter by highly experienced and knowledgeable Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers.

Other projects

Find out more about projects that help turtles:

Other resources

How you can help

From the Great Barrier Reef to Moreton Bay, all Queensland waterways are connected. There are things all of us can do to help. For example, avoiding littering, wherever you live, will prevent litter getting into waterways and making its way to the Great Barrier Reef. If you live in Reef catchment areas, you can make sure soil and fertiliser stays on your property.

You can also help by reporting marine wildlife strandings by calling 1300 130 372.

Find out more about how you can help.