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    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Green turtles and marine scientists get ready for Raine Island nesting season

    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Friday, November 27, 2015

    Green turtles and marine scientists get ready for Raine Island nesting season

    A small sand island on the remote northern tip of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is about to become the focus of attention for marine scientists working to save the most important breeding ground for green turtles in the world.

    An intensive monitoring program is planned for the coming turtle nesting season on Raine Island, as part of the five-year investment of $5.4 million from BHP Billiton under a partnership arrangement with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

    The partnership is also made possible by the ongoing support of Wuthathi and Meriam Nations Traditional Owners.

    Great Barrier Reef and National Parks Minister Dr Steven Miles said the first boatload of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers, marine scientists, Traditional Owner rangers and volunteers was set to depart for Raine Island on Saturday, 28 November 2015. 

    “This will be the first visit to Raine Island since the success of last year’s trial of a significant reshaping of part of the beach which scientists hope will save this vital breeding ground for the iconic green turtle,” Dr Miles said.

    “Thanks to BHP Billiton and the ongoing support of Wuthathi and Meriam Nations Traditional Owners, QPWS is now leading development of a five-year program to build on that initial success and secure the long-term future of Raine Island.

    “The first priority is to assess the condition of the fencing and other infrastructure which was put in place last year and make any necessary repairs, followed by setting up more cameras and data loggers to improve communication and satellite monitoring for the coming season.”

    Raine Island is only 32 hectares in total but each year up to 60,000 female green turtles swim up to thousands of kilometres from their feeding grounds in the Northern Great Barrier Reef, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Torres Strait and the West Pacific to lay their eggs.

    “The decision was made to intervene due to abnormally high nesting and hatching failure and adult turtles were dying as they became upturned on the steep cliffs which were formed by the erosion,” Dr Miles said.

    “New fencing put in place ahead of last year’s breeding season reduced the adult mortality rate on the island by more than 50 per cent.

    “In addition a 150 metre section of beach was reshaped to reduce water inundation of nests and the improved conditions saw the hatchling production rate jump from an average of just 36 per cent over the previous three years to 56 per cent, while the number of eggs destroyed in the nests was slashed from 43 per cent down to 28 per cent.”

    BHP Billiton’s President, Coal Mike Henry said the company was proud of the support it provided to protect Raine Island because it would underpin critical research into the long term sustainability of the Great Barrier Reef.

    “As the site of one of the world’s most significant marine migrations, Raine Island is a critical part of the Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem,” Mr Henry said.

    “At BHP Billiton sustainability is a core value for us and we are constantly challenging ourselves to do more to support the environments in which we operate.

    “That’s why with the Foundation we are committed to support the preservation of such a vibrant and diverse global marine habitat.”

    ENDS

    For video footage and photos please follow the link:

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/nmhv1r3ztmftboa/AABkCErNqN7ksjf23vTKA5Q0a?oref=e&n=182764312

    Media contact: Katharine Wright 0422 580 342