Funding for research centre to save endangered turtles


planned Fraser Coast Turtle Rehabilitation and Research Centre media release image

Marine research to protect the Fraser Coast’s endangered sea turtle has received a major funding boost, as scientists examine a potential link between the turtle’s habitat health and a mystery disease.

The Australian Government has approved the final allocation of funding under the Hinkler Regional Deal of $250,000 for the planned Fraser Coast Turtle Rehabilitation and Research Centre, an initiative led by the University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC).

Earlier this year, the Queensland Government allocated $1 million towards the centre, on top of an earlier commitment of $230,000 to purchase specialist turtle life support equipment for the region.

The Hinkler Regional Deal for the Hervey Bay-Bundaberg region is an Australian Government initiative in partnership with the Fraser Coast Regional Council and the Bundaberg Regional Council that seeks to build on the area’s strengths to provide economic growth and long-term employment.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, the Hon Kristy McBain MP:

“Today’s announcement of funding for the turtle rehabilitation and research centre is fantastic news for improving the health of local turtle populations, and preserving the wildlife in the area.

“The funding announced today demonstrates the Albanese Labor Government’s commitment to funding improvements for our regions.

“This project once again shows that we are getting on with the job of supporting our regions, bringing new long-term employment and economic growth to the Fraser Coast.”

Quotes attributable to Queensland Minister for the Environment, the Hon Leanne Linard MP:

“The Fraser Coast is one of four major sea turtle stranding ‘hotspots’ in Queensland and has, in recent years, experienced an increase in sick and injured marine turtles requiring assistance.

“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government has committed $1.2 million towards the development of the Fraser Coast Marine Turtle Rehabilitation and Research Centre, to be led by UniSC.

“This centre will provide much-needed local turtle care and rehabilitation, as well as important turtle health research, improving the chances of survival for sick and injured turtles.

“The Palaszczuk Government welcome’s the Australian Government’s contribution to this important project which will contribution to the preservation of our majestic marine turtles.”

Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister for Regional Development, Senator the Hon Anthony Chisholm:

“Through its backing for ongoing research, we are aiming for the Fraser Coast turtle rehab and research centre will provide long-term health benefits for sea turtles in the region.

“Importantly, anestimated 15 jobs will be supported by the centre, and is expected to draw in students, researchers and tourists.”

Quotes attributable to Fraser Coast Mayor, Cr George Seymour:

“This facility will benefit the region’s wildlife, university students and the broader community, including Butchulla traditional owners.

“This is an excellent partnership between all three levels of government, community groups and the University of the Sunshine Coast.

“The turtles are an endangered species, so it is important that we research what has been happening to the local population that has caused the large number of fatalities and casualties.”

Quotes attributable to University of the Sunshine Coast Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Helen Bartlett:

“This funding will support the creation of a dedicated centre in Hervey Bay focused on vital research for sick, starving and dying sea turtles in the waters of the Great Sandy Strait.

“We know marine turtles in the region are in an extremely dire fight for survival, with an unprecedented number of strandings and deaths since the start of last year.

“As well as investigating the general health and threats facing the animals, UniSC marine scientists are also continuing urgent research to find the cause of a new syndrome that is making the shells of turtles soft and sponge-like, and in some instances, exposing bare bone.

“This very welcome commitment from the Australian Government highlights how all levels of government recognise and support the need for timely action to improve the plight of our marine turtles.”