A project of Dept. Parks & Wildlife in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.
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Thevenard Island is approximately 22km from Onslow, and about 1400km north of Perth in Western Australia. It is the largest of a group of 10 islands, known as the Mackerel Islands.
The island is designated as a Class C nature reserve at about 6km long it covers an area of approximately 550 hectares. Dugongs and dolphins can be found in the waters surrounding the island, while the endangered Lakeland Downs short-tailed mouse inhabits the acacia shrub lands over deep sandy soils that cover the interior. Thevenard is an important nesting site in the Pilbara for flatback, green and hawksbill turtles.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife has instigated a pilot monitoring program at Thevenard as part of the Northwest Shelf Flatback Turtle Conservation Program. The program aims to broaden understanding of the ecology and demography of the Northwest Shelf flatback stock, which includes populations found off the Pilbara and southwest Kimberley coasts.
Parks and Wildlife staff, with assistance from volunteers, monitor the beaches on the south-eastern side of the island. Here nesting flatback turtles, along with occasional green turtles, are tagged, measured and have biopsies taken for genetic sampling. Volunteers are also involved in gathering data on distribution and abundance of turtles on the remainder of the island, monitoring the 12km of beaches, recording track counts of green, hawksbill and flatback turtles.
Satellite trackers have been deployed on some of the flatbacks to follow inter-nesting movements, post-nesting migration and to identify foraging grounds.
Other research includes nest exhumation and turtle health studies, along with nest and beach sand temperature monitoring to gain a better understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on flatback turtle development.
This project is part of the Northwest Shelf Flatback Turtle Conservation Program (NWSFTCP).
The Northwest Shelf Flatback Conservation Program is a 30-year program funded as an additional undertaking by the Chevron-operated Gorgon Gas Project and is administered by the Department of Parks and Wildlife.