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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 26:25-38 (2014)  -  DOI:

Inter-nesting distribution of flatback turtles Natator depressus and industrial development in Western Australia

Paul A. Whittock1,2,*, Kellie L. Pendoley1, Mark Hamann2

1Pendoley Environmental Pty Ltd, 12a Pitt Way, Booragoon, WA 6154, Australia
2School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Offshore interactions of inter-nesting flatback turtles Natator depressus with resource industry activities are potentially frequent, yet the associated impact is largely unquantified. Consequently, there is a need to understand the degree of interaction and to provide data that can assist with effective conservation and management. We used satellite tracking to highlight the potential interaction of inter-nesting flatback turtles (n = 56) from 4 rookeries in Western Australia with regional resource industry activities. Flatback turtles demonstrated varying inter-nesting movements, with displacement distances ranging from 3.4 to 62.1 km. Some turtles at all 4 rookeries remained <10 km from the nesting beach. Core home range areas for inter-nesting flatback turtles ranged from 1.4 to 601.1 km2. The proportion of core home range areas for Thevenard and Barrow Island turtles that overlapped offshore petroleum title areas was 85.7 and 88.6%, respectively. The proportion of median daily positions that overlapped petroleum title areas was also high, 80.8% (Thevenard) and 87.3% (Barrow). There was no overlap of home range areas and median daily positions with petroleum title areas for Mundabullangana and Port Hedland turtles, although some inter-nesting movements of Port Hedland turtles were in close proximity to a proposed port expansion. The wide-ranging inter-nesting movement patterns highlight a need for the Australian Government and industry to expand the scope of Environmental Impact Assessments, ensuring adequate protection is provided to inter-nesting flatback turtles. The similar nearshore inter-nesting movement pattern recorded by some flatback turtles at each rookery provides an opportunity to establish boundaries for small-scale spatial and temporal protection measures.

KEY WORDS: Flatback · Inter-nesting · Satellite tracking · Australia · Industry · Environmental Impact Assessment · EIA

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Cite this article as: Whittock PA, Pendoley KL, Hamann M (2014) Inter-nesting distribution of flatback turtles Natator depressus and industrial development in Western Australia. Endang Species Res 26:25-38.

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