Merlie heads out back to sea with the satellite tracker safely mounted to her shell.
Merlie heads out back to sea with the satellite tracker safely mounted to her shell.

Survivor turtle to help with vital research

IT’S that time of year again where turtles make their way to the Bundaberg coastline to lay their eggs, and one will also help experts learn more about the species.

Merlie, the 50-year-old loggerhead was equipped with a special satellite tag at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre and released on Saturday night.

The device will is expected to stay on the turtle for at least four months and will help researches learn more about the turtles’ behaviour and where they live.

Chief scientist of the Aquatic Threatened Species program Colin Limpus said the turtle they chose to tag had been nesting at Mon Repos for about 20 years.

“She was nesting around the time when a lot of our turtles were drowning from prawn trawlers, so she’s a survivor,” he said.

“We’re going to track it to find out where it lives and learn about safe breeding grounds.”

The tag sits on the turtle’s shell and acts like a radio transmitter and is programmed to give signals when the animal surfaces to breathe.

He said the tags will also help them manage problems the turtles may face.

“Our problem is we’re looking after them here, but they only come for a couple of weeks every couple of years,” he said.

“They’re exposed to a whole lot of problems we’re not managing here at Mon Repos, some of them are getting killed by boats, others are getting tangled in fishing nets, some are taking fish hooks – but until we know where the problems are we can’t put pressure on management solutions.”



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