An Australian-made mobile phone app has been released as part of an initiative to save the endangered loggerhead turtle (Carretta caretta).
Loggerheads are found throughout the world’s tropical and sub-tropical waters, however it is threatened by extinction as a result of its low reproductive rate, habitat degradation and unintended deaths caused by fishing.
The new app, which has been developed in partnership with Sydney-based advertising agency Brains and the Gnaraloo Wilderness Foundation, is designed to use satellite technology to track and monitor 10 female loggerheads that nest on a remote beach north of Carnavon, WA.
Not only will the app provide scientists a clearer view of the turtles’ journeys throughout the Indian Ocean, it’s also available to the public and thereby acts to raise awareness for the species’ plight.
Gnaraloo Bay, the nesting ground of these loggerheads, is currently the focus of a number of proposals that will seek to turn the site into a tourism ‘node’.
Chair and founder of the Gnaraloo Wilderness Foundation, Paul Richardson said that any proposal that required significant development in the area would likely mean bad news for the endangered chelonid.
“At other beaches around the world, tourist facilities have had disastrous effects on sea turtle numbers,” said Richardson. “Turtles navigate by following the lowest light on their horizon, so light from hotels and cars can cause both the mature females and hatchlings to head inland instead of back out to sea – where they rapidly dehydrate and die.”
Up until now, scientists have not been able to confirm where the loggerheads journey after their nesting period, making the launch of this free app all the more momentous for conservation science.
“Over time the app will build up a picture of where the 10 female loggerhead turtles go between nesting, how often they return to lay their eggs on the wild beaches of Gnaraloo and where they go once the nesting season is over,” Richardson added.
An initiative of the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program, the Turtle Tracker app is jointly funded by the Gnaraloo Wilderness Foundation and Caring for Country.