Green turtles are primarilyherbivorous, mostly eating seagrassand algae. Juveniles are carnivorous.Green turtles undertake long-distancedispersal around feeding areas and toand from nesting beaches. Individualstagged in the Kimberley have beenrecaptured in the Top End, andindividuals tagged at breeding sites inthe northern Great Barrier Reef havebeen recaptured in the southern Gulfof Carpentaria. Individuals tagged innorth-eastern Arnhem Land makecomplex and long movements aroundthe western shores of the Gulf ofCarpentaria (Kennett
. 2004)In the NT, green turtles nest mainly onwide beaches backed by large dunesystems, and may occur at highdensities in such sites (Chatto 1998).
A recent assessment of trends for thisspecies in the southern Great BarrierReef has shown that the overallpopulation increased by 11% perannum over 8 years (1985-1992)
andthe female nesting populationincreased by 3% per annum between1974 and 1998 (Chaloupka andLimpus 2001).There are few population trend datafor the NT. There is some anecdotalevidence of at least localised declineof marine turtles in general (Kennett
. 2004). Given the indications of apopulation at least in the thousands inboth the breeding and feedingsegments with no evidence ofsubstantial decline the species isconsidered as
for theNorthern Territory.
As with other marine turtles, there area broad range of factors that threatenthis species. These may include by-catch in commercial fisheries (Poinerand Harris 1996); Indigenous harvest;predation of eggs and young by dogs,pigs and goannas; marine pollution,including entanglement in ghost nets;and disturbance at main breedingsites.
Conservation objectives andmanagement
A national recovery plan for thisspecies, and other marine turtles, wasimplemented in 2003 (EnvironmentAustralia 2003).This plan includes actions that: (i) aimto reduce mortality of turtles(principally through ameliorativeactions within commercial fisheries,and maintenance of sustainableharvest by Indigenous communities),(ii) develop and integrate monitoringprograms; (iii) manage factors thataffect reproductive success (in thiscase, outside NT); (iv) identify andprotect critical habitat (including seagrass beds); (v) enhancecommunication of information; and (vi)enhance international actions andcooperation.
Robert TaylorRay ChattoJohn Woinarski[May 2006]
Chaloupka, M., and Limpus, C. (2001).Trends in the abundance of seaturtles resident in southern GreatBarrier Reef waters.
235-249.Chatto, R. (1998). A preliminary overviewof the locations of marine turtlenesting in the Northern Territory. In
Marine turtle conservation and management in northern Australia
.(eds R. Kennett, A. Webb, G. Duff, M.Guinea and G. Hill.) pp. 33-40.(Northern Territory University,Darwin.)Environment Australia (2003)
Recovery Plan for marine Turtles in Australia
.(Environment Australia, Canberra.)Kennett, R., Robinson, C.J., Kiessling, I.,Yunupingu, D., Munungurritj, N., andYunupingu, D. (2004). Indigenousinitiatives for co-management of