Marine Science honours projects

Turtle movement in sub-tropical estuaries using drones and land-based survey

There is surprisingly limited research on marine turtle behaviour in estuaries.

Subtropical estuaries could be key sites for marine turtle safe-haven in the absence of offshore reefs. Preliminary observations at Sandon Estuary have identified a distinct movement pattern in to the estuary during the last hour of daylight, and similar movement out of the estuary in the early morning.

Continued field research is required to ascertain temporal variability in marine turtle behaviour and relative abundance. A combination of land-based visual survey and low altitude aerial surveillance with drones will help answer some fundamental questions around how marine turtles utilise northern NSW estuaries.

The field work initially will take place at Sandon. Accommodation is camping in a national park campground and as such you must be happy to stay out for multiple days with no power and no running water. Some camp kitchen gear can be supplied but it would be useful if you are a confident camper with your own tent and sleeping gear. You will also be required to seek help from volunteers to ensure a minimum of 3 observers are on-site at any one time.

Contact Debra Stokes debra.stokes@scu.edu.au