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Turtle Monitoring

The community-based turtle monitoring program was established in 2004 to provide a much-needed role for the awareness and conservation of the local threatened flatback sea turtle species Natator depressus.

The presence of flatback turtles in Hedland gives a unique opportunity for the community and visitors to the area to be actively involved in contributing to the monitoring of the protected species. 

Flatback sea turtles nest only on Australian beaches and have the shortest migratory range of all sea turtles. There is currently limited population data available on the species, highlighting the importance of the Care for Hedland monitoring program. This program is a part of a wider turtle monitoring project encompassing nesting rookeries from Shark Bay in the south, up to the Kimberley.

The Hedland turtle monitoring program operates from October to March each year in correlation with the annual flatback migration to the coastline for the nesting and hatchling seasons (nesting season: October – January and hatchling season: December – March).


The turtle monitoring program has two key goals:

  1. To educate and bring awareness of the local flatback turtle species and encourage positive methods for human interaction with the species. 

  2.  To collect data concerning flatback turtle activity at the Cemetery Beach and Pretty Pool Beach nesting sites that will be used to provide an indication of the nesting and hatchling populations at Hedland; as well as to provide best guide management plans for the area.

The program uses a non-invasive approach to obtain monitoring data through conducting early morning beach patrols assessing turtle tracks and sand patterns. Laid and hatched nest locations are recorded using a GPS and additional turtle as well as predator activity is also documented.

Turtle Tagging

This season we will employ three Turtle Coordinators to collect scientific data and conduct the turtle tagging program at Cemetery Beach. Flipper tagging collects vital population data. It can provide information on population trends, habitat residency, movement patterns, individual growth rates, reproductive life history and strandings. Interstate, overseas and community volunteers have been assisting with this work and have enjoyed getting up close and personal with the turtles!

At the moment there is space for up to nine volunteers per night to record data and restrain the turtles if needed.  

To download a 2017-18 volunteer information pack, click here. For the 2017-18 application form, click here. Applications must be sent to 

Turtle Tours

Would you like to go on a facilitated Turtle Tour with our Evening Program Coordinator? On your Turtle Tour, Skye will teach you about these amazing animals and you can watch as the female flatback sea turtle ascends the beach to lay her eggs. This is an amazing experience that few ever get to witness. Tours take place most evenings, two hours either side of the high tide. More information will be provided soon about booking your once-in-a-lifetime Turtle Tour. 

If you would any further information on the Care For Hedland Turtle Monitoring Program, please contact our Association Coordinator, via email at or find us on Facebook.

Volunteering - Care for Hedland are currently seeking motivated people to volunteer as part of our Turtle Monitoring Programs. 

Local Volunteers - Training weekend 4th and 5th November. We will be holding a training session from 10am-2pm on Saturday 4th November at Gateway Village, South Hedland. Everyone is welcome to attend and lunch will be provided. On Sunday 5th November, we will be holding the second part of the training weekend at Cemetery Beach from 8-9am. This is the practical session and you might be lucky enough to see some turtles! Having done the training course, you will be prepared to volunteer in our program at any time during the 2017-18 season. Contact to register for the training weekend.

Out of Town Volunteers - for all information regarding the program and/or you would like to volunteer, please email for more information or to send through an application form (download here). Information packs can be downloaded here.

Our wonderful sponsors at Discovery Parks have put a fantastic special together for this season's turtle monitoring volunteers. Please contact us to find out more.

For daily updates on all things TURTLES check out our Facebook page: Care for Hedland Turtle Monitoring.

Annual Care for Hedland Memberships can be purchased by contacting Jo at


Saving the Turtles of Port Hedland Documentary

In 2014, Care for Hedland and Brains Design bumped heads and produced the documentary Saving the Turtles of Port Hedland.

The documentary has been well received by the Hedland community and has been available for purchase at market stalls and the Port Hedland Visitor Centre since August 2014.

The documentary follows the journey of the local community who have rallied together, determined to protect the nationally protected turtle species in the face of ongoing threats such at development and habitat disruption.

Care Hor Hedland's turtle monitoring program is in its eleventh season and utilizes local and visiting volunteers to collect scientific data and educate the public on responsible behavior during the nesting season which runs from late October to April every year.

Copies of the full documentary are available for purchase through the online Shop. In the meantime, you can see the trailer by clicking here.


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Best Practice for Turtle Watching

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Morning Monitoring

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