Indigenous rangers share knowledge about sea turtles

30 August 2012

More than 100 people from community groups, universities, government and industry met at the Western Australian Sea Turtle Symposium at Curtin University in Perth this week. Turtle and Dugong Survey 2012 161

The forum showcased a range of sea turtle research, management and conservation projects and allowed participants to discuss new methodology, techniques and equipment, and ideas for collaboration.

Among the speakers were two Uungguu rangers from Wunambal Gaambera Country, based in Kalumburu in the far north Kimberley, who are working as part of the Northern Australia hub of the National Environmental Research Program.

The rangers, Jason Adams and Rosemary Cheinmora, have been working with researchers from the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) and CSIRO to establish a turtle and dugong monitoring project.

NAILSMA Chief Executive Officer Joe Morrison said the work the Uungguu Rangers are doing is important because there is a shortage of accessible biodiversity data for northern Australia to support decision making.

“Indigenous communities have increasingly been expressing aspirations to manage their marine and coastal environments through ‘sea country planning’, which establishes monitoring targets,” Mr Morrison said.

“Collecting data and researching key marine species and habitats is an essential part of the effectiveness of these plans, so this project was started to learn more about where sea turtles and dugongs are travelling in the region, and how to look after them.

“We’ve been trialing a new count method and I-Tracker application with intensive boat-based surveys since May this year, which is providing valuable information about the habitat and abundance of sea turtles in the Kimberley region.

“The research outcomes will be used primarily to inform local management plans developed by Traditional Owners, but also shared more widely with relevant government and research bodies through public channels such as the Symposium.”

The Uungguu Rangers are facilitated by the Kimberley Land Council.

The Northern Australia hub is one of five hubs around Australia receiving funding from the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

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