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Turtle Research Centre launched

Turtle Research Centre launched

Photo: Triggerfish Images

JCU has launched its Turtle Health Research Facility – the first turtle research centre of its kind in the world. And it already has some very cute residents!

The research centre at JCU’s Townsville campus will study the health of turtles from when they are hatchlings, and work closely with government authorities, GBRMPA and scientists from across the world.

Stage One of the donor-funded research facility is already home to 40 small turtles.  

The Dean of the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, Professor Maxine Whittaker said turtles are important icons for indigenous peoples and for the tropics at large.

“They can live to a very old age and are lifelong residents in their local environment. The health of the turtles reflects the health of the environment in which they live – and can be an early warning for humans of problems in the environment”.

Associate Professor Ellen Ariel said six of the world’s seven endangered species of turtles live in Australian waters, and the centre’s research will be crucial to help ensure the survival of these threatened animals on the Great Barrier Reef.

“The centre will undertake groundbreaking research on the health of these ancient mariners that we know so little about.

“We hope to obtain crucial information that we can feed back into the processes of diagnosing and treating disease as well as population health assessments in the wild.

“These would be useful tools to save individual animals, and could assist in detecting early warning signs of deteriorating environmental health in areas where sea turtles live for an extended time,” Asoc Prof Ariel said.

Construction of Stage Two of the centre (Nursery) will begin later this year, with the installation of larger, outdoor tanks and other facilities.

JCU would like to thank the following donors for their generous support of the centre:

Turtle Health Research Facility (Stage One):

  • John T Reid Charitable Trusts
  • WWF-Australia
  • The Winifred Violet Scott Charitable Trust
  • The E Robert Hayles and Alison L Hayles Charitable Trust
  • Albert George and Nancy Caroline Youngman Trust


Stage Two (Nursery):

  • William Richards Trust
  • The John Villiers Trust
  • James N Kirby Foundation
  • Mr Raymond Rudd


Images of turtles available here:

(images must be credited Triggerfish Images and are for single use only)


The Turtle Research Facility is seeking additional funds to assist with the ongoing support of turtle hatchlings in their natural environment:

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