Queensland: K'gari (Fraser Island) turtle tracking 2014-24

Queensland Turtle Conservation Project - Col Limpus & Aubrey Strydom

Dataset credit

Data provider
Aubrey Strydom
Originating data center
Satellite Tracking and Analysis Tool (STAT)
Project partner
Aubrey Strydom.
Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management.
Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation
Butchulla Land & Sea Rangers
Butchulla Native Title Aboriginal Corporation
Lower Mary River Land and Catchment Care Group Inc.
Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee.
Queensland Parks & Wildlife, Great Sandy Marine Park.
Queensland Parks & Wildlife, K'gari-Fraser Island.
Queensland Turtle Conservation Research Program: Aquatic Threatened Species Unit, (Department of Environment & Science)
Sandy Cape Lighthouse Volunteer Caretakers.
Sirtrack, New Zealand.
Wildlife Computers, Redmond, Washington.
Project sponsor or sponsor description
In February 2022 a prominent British Broadcaster's Natural History Unit donated over $4,000 towards flipper tagging equipment and hand held GPS units for the project.

In January 2022 Warner Bros TV Productions (London) donated over $4,000 towards diesel fuel & 2 x Cel-Fi mobile phone repeaters for the Lighthouse Cottages.

Lower Mary River Land and Catchment Care Group Inc and Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management provided the turtle catch trailer, sponsored two trackers and their Argos data for six months, and found grants for diesel fuel for the seasons 2014-2022.

The Sandy Cape Lighthouse Volunteer Caretakers came in their own 4x4 vehicles and spent uncounted kilometers and hours relocating loggerhead nests to the secure hatchery cages.

Aub Strydom funded 32 trackers (7 before we started with seaturtle.org and not shown on this page.) and the Argos data fees for 23 trackers.

Queensland Turtle Conservation Research Program: Aquatic Threatened Species Unit, (Department of Environment & Science) provided the Argos data fees for 7 trackers.

Sirtrack NZ sponsored one tracker and provided another free at the 4th Australian Sea Turtle Symposium Silent Auction which we were able to bid for at a good price. (used on 2 Cc females - neither shown on this tracking site.)

ARGOS CSL provided the data free for the Silent Auction tracker.

Wildlife Computers provided the data and a new Mk10 GPS Depth & Temperature tracker & a Mini Spot6 tracker for us to to Beta test. (On a Cc male and a Cm male - Neither shown on this tracking site)


Primary contact Aubrey Strydom Aubrey Strydom
Data entry Michael Coyne seaturtle.org



63 turtles have been tracked from Sandy Cape.
44 are shown here, and a further 15 green males, 1 loggerhead male and 3 loggerhead females have been tracked but the data is not captured in seaturtle.org
Totals are:
30 green males
14 green females
1 loggerhead male
18 loggerhead females

Project Sponsors and Partners are acknowledged at the bottom of this web page.

The traditional owners of K'gari (Fraser Island), the Butchulla people, gained Native Title over much of K'gari in 2014, and we acknowledge their long heritage on and nurturing of this beautiful land.
The idea of monitoring nesting turtles in the Sandy Cape rookery on K'gari-Fraser Island was initiated in the 1992-3 season by Rowan Foley, a Butchulla man, who was then employed as a Ranger by Queensland (National) Parks and Wildlife Service, (QNPWS, now QPWS) and as a result some nest and track-count monitoring was undertaken by long-time annual campers Karl & Sue Klein, and the Lighthouse Keepers, Dudley & Sue Fulton, & Aubrey Strydom & Lainie Rowe.

Rowan's report recommending that a turtle census be undertaken was accepted by QPWS and in the 1993-4 season Steve Price - QPWS 2IC Ranger at Waddy Point, with the support of his RIC Bart Klekar, came to the top end of K'gari-Fraser Island with the two Michaels - volunteers from the Mon Repos Turtle Rookery.
A number of Park Rangers and the Lighthouse Keepers were inducted into turtle species I.D., flipper tagging, and data sheet entry and so began an 18 year monitoring program, with a 17 night mid-season nesting census and flipper tagging of all turtles coming ashore during the census across the 44km of beach from Rooney Point to Ngkala Rocks.
In that first season the first nest relocations to near the Lighthouse gate by vehicle was trialed, using three doomed clutches laid below the king tide level.

This was successful and since then 5 nest relocation cages with a total capacity of 120 clutches have been developed at strategic locations along the rookery, and recently also at Orchid Beach, to enable protection of doomed loggerhead and green clutches, and to provide protection for a percentage of loggerhead clutches from vehicle and camping impacts, and dingo and goanna (monitor lizard) depredation.

In the first few years in the mid 1990's between 50 to 100 greens, but only 5 to 7 loggerheads were nesting annually, and drowned adult loggerhead turtles were being found washed up on the beach.

Nesting numbers increased to twelve to fifteen loggerheads a year from 1997 when a seasonal 3 to 5 km wide trawl exclusion zone was established along the NW beach between Rooney Point and Sandy Cape, and then climbed to near 50 nesting each year after the introduction of TEDs, (Turtle Exclusion Devices) in the Queensland trawl fishery nets in 2001.
Currently annually about 50 loggerheads nest along the 44 kilometers of the Rooney Point to Sandy Cape to Ngkala Rocks rookery, and between 50 and 100 loggerhead nests are protected by relocation each season, by the Sandy Cape Lighthouse Volunteer Caretakers, in a program supported by QPWS.

Green nests are not generally relocated, as the Southern Barrier Reef green turtle population is still slowly increasing since turtle protection in Queensland began in the early 1950s, and these eggs support the Wongari (Dingo) population as part of their natural diet.

While occasionally over 600 greens have been found to nest in a season, and as few as 3 the next season, most commonly between 50 and 100 green turtles come in to nest each year. This variability provides some protection to the greens clutches by sometimes alternatively flooding the predators' diet one season with a mass nesting and starving them the next.

A study of dingo impacts on the nests saw nest depredation vary between 15% in a season when there was a mass nesting of over 250 greens and 85% when there were only about 30 greens nesting.

A potential new threat to the rookery is the advance of feral foxes and pigs up K'gari-Fraser Island. They are in large numbers on the adjacent mainland and are good swimmers.
In recent years foxes have been sighted at Awinya Creek, only 30 to 40 kilometers from either end of the Sandy Cape rookery, and in December 2018 a feral pig was seen on the beach in the rookery only 5km south of Sandy Cape.
Monitoring of nests for any pig and fox impacts will guide management plans to provide further protection.

Over the years since 1993 over 500 male green turtles were tagged courting in the shallows or basking on the beach, and a correlation between their numbers and the size of the concurrent green nesting season was observed. Some were found to be carrying flipper tags from the Shoalwater Bay turtle rodeo program, and K'gari-Fraser Island tagged males were being found at Shoalwater Bay, and in the Whitsundays.

It was found that female green turtles tagged on the Island in the September/October courting season were being seen that season nesting further north at other rookeries in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, and at the Wongarra Coast and Wreck Rock mainland rookeries.

In 2014 two males were tagged while courting at Sandy Cape and one returned home to Shoalwater Bay and one to the outer Barrier Reef near Olympic Reef.

The green female April O'Moreton, who had been tagged as a juvenile in 1992 in Moreton Bay was found courting at Sandy Cape in 2015 and given a satellite tracker, and she moved on to nest at North West Island in the Capricorn Bunker group.

In the 2015-16 season the project also tracked 5 green males and in 2016-17 a further 6 green males, to expand the knowledge of where they come from to court at Fraser Island, what connectivity they have to other known
courting areas, and to examine the areas in the Great Sandy Marine Park they use during their courting sojourn.
While many of these returned to nearby foraging home ranges, the most distant male home foraging range was of a turtle who swam to the Great Lakes near Pt Stephens, NSW.

Three green females were tracked in the 2016-17 season - one with a history of nesting at K'gari-Fraser Island, one known to forage in the Whitsundays, and one known to nest at Wreck Island in 1998 in the Capricorn Bunker group.

In November 2017, 3 nesting loggerhead females and 8 nesting green females, and in each of December 2018, and December 2022 a further 5 nesting loggerhead females were given trackers, to enable comparison of the female's inter-nesting habitat use with that of the males courting habitat, and help inform an assessment of the adequacy of the seasonal go-slow and no-trawl zones in the Great Sandy Marine Park.

3 courting green males were tracked 2021-2022, with one returning to a home foraging range in New Caledonia, and a further 3 tracked in 2022-23.

2 courting green females and 10 green males, and 3 more loggerhead females are being tracked in 2023-24. 6 of these males are tracked via the Iridum satellites and not captured here.



Supplemental information

Visit STAT's project page for additional information.




This section explains attributes included in the original dataset. OBIS-SEAMAP restricts the attributes available to the public to date/time, lat/lon and species names/counts only. Should you need other attributes described here, you are encouraged to contact the data provider.

Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
Only minimum required attributes are visible and downloadable online. Other attributes may be obtained upon provider's permission.

Attributes in dataset

Attribute (table column)Description
prognumProgram number
tag_idPTT ID
lcLocation class
iqQuality indicator
dir1Dir 1
nb_mesNumber of messages received
big_nb_mesdefinition not provided
best_levelBest signal strength in dB
pass_durationPass duration in seconds
nopcNumber Of Plausibility Checks successful (from 0-4)
calcul_freqCalculated frequency
altitudeAltitude used for location calculation
speciesSpecies name
project_idSTAT Project ID
lc_filterParameters to location filtering
speed_filterParameters to speed filtering
distance_filterParameters to distance filtering
topo_filterParameters to topo filtering
time_filterParameters to time filtering
angle_filterParameters to angle filtering
life_stageLife stage of the animal
genderGender of the animal
wetdryWet or dry
wetdry_filterParameters to Wet or dry filterint
obs_datetimeDate and time (local time zone)
timezone_hTime difference from UTC
Marine mammals0
Sea turtles7,153
Rays and sharks0
Other species0
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin2015-10-14
Date, End2024-06-29
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude-28.51 - -13.97
Longitude142.19 - 160.08
Coord. prec.3 decimal digits
Data typeTelemetry location
TracklinesYES (ID: 1347)
Traveled (km)35,770
Travel hours37,681
Contr. throughSatellite Tracking and Analysis Tool
Sharing policy Permission required
Shared with SWOT
GBIF (via DOI)*
* Aggregated summary
See metadata in static HTML
See metadata in FGDC XML
See download history / statistics