A new port of call for turtle data

A marine biodiversity survey team from Western Australia’s Department of Environment and Conservation with a turtle in the Montebello Archipelago, Western Australia. The National Marine Turtle Database being compiled by ACEF will, for the first time, enable national assessments of the condition and trends of Australia’s sea turtle populations.

Information about Australia’s turtles will soon be accessible online thanks to a collaborative effort coordinated by TERN’s Australian Coastal Ecosystems Facility. On its release, the National Marine Turtle Database (NMTD) will house data from a number of state agencies across the country, to support national efforts to monitor and manage turtles.

The database will better enable state agencies and other turtle-data holders to share their data, and will feed into national reporting processes such as the State of the Environment report, which is released every five years. Researchers will benefit from the easier access to existing data about Australia’s turtles, and in addition the database may prove useful in other applications, such as development assessments.

Currently a range of state and Commonwealth agencies and other groups monitor turtles for a variety of purposes. The data they collect are managed through separate databases, and are not readily accessible at a national level. Thus, while information about Australia’s turtle populations exists, it’s not always easy to find or use.

Australia’s marine and coastal research community highlighted this situation as a high priority – and ACEF stepped in to develop the National Marine Turtle Database.

A key partner in the project is the Atlas of Living Australia. Its Biological Data Recording System will be used as the platform for the NMTD; it offers a highly flexible, configurable system for the storage of field data from a range of sources.

Initially, data available through the NMTD will include turtle-nesting records such as the size and location of nesting sites. Over time a wider range of data, including that contributed by private research and industry groups, may be incorporated.

The National Marine Turtle Database will be available online from June 2013. For more information email Mr Jonathan Hodge.

Implementation of the National Marine Turtle Database is one of many advancements in Australian ecosystem science that will be discussed at the 2013 TERN Symposium in Canberra in February. The symposium website has more information.


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