December 5, 2016

TSRA present at Biennial Australian Sea Turtle Symposium

The third Biennial Australian Sea Turtle Symposium, hosted by AusTurtle, took place in August 2016 at the Territory Wildlife Park in Berry Springs, Northern Territory.
Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) Chairperson, Mr Pedro Stephen AM, said the Biennial Symposium provides an opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic work being undertaken in the Torres Strait and to learn valuable experiences and outcomes.

“It brings together marine turtle scientists, Indigenous Rangers, community volunteers, university students, and government agencies from across Australia and internationally,” Mr Stephen said.
“The themes for this year’s symposium were in-water biology, nesting and population biology, genetics, conservation management and policy, Indigenous cultural studies, education and advocacy, and anatomy, physiology and health.”

Senior Erubam Le Ranger Aaron Ketchell and TSRA Environmental Management Programme staff members Tristan Simpson and Belinda Norris delivered two presentations at the Symposium.
Mr Stephen said the presentations focused on highlighting the community based dugong and turtle management work undertaken across the Torres Strait, and the research undertaken at Maizab Kaur over the last two years.

“The Maizab Kaur presentation highlighted the strong cultural significance of Maizab Kaur to the Traditional Owners, the importance of the island as a green turtle and seabird rookery, and the collaborative monitoring being undertaken by the TSRA LSMU, Traditional Owners, James Cook University (JCU) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS),” Mr Stephen said.
“Maizab Kaur is the largest green turtle and seabird rookery in the Torres Strait.
“Every year the island dramatically changes in shape and size with the trade wind (Sager) and monsoonal (Kuki) seasons, however there is concern by Traditional Owners that the island is eroding and becoming smaller.

“The monitoring undertaken at Maizab Kaur is measuring these seasonal changes of the island and
the impacts it’s having on green turtle nesting, incubating eggs and the sea bird population.”
Mr Stephen said the TSRA’s Environmental Management Programme is now leading marine turtle
monitoring at key index rookeries across the Torres Strait in collaboration with Traditional Owners.
“In the past all marine turtle monitoring has been led by external researchers, such as JCU,” said Mr

“Our partnerships with research institutes like JCU still remain strong based on the foundational
capacity building they provided the TSRA. This is a significant outcome for the Torres Strait as we arenow peers driving and delivering the project rather than being participants.
“The presentations of the outcomes at the Symposium and the high level of interest and positive
feedback by participants are a demonstration of how far we have come, and a recognition and
respect for the high level of work that is being completed in the Torres Strait.”