NSW TurtleWatch – citizen science nesting program

NSW TurtleWatch has been developed by Australian Seabird & Turtle Rescue and is proudly funded by the NSW Government.

Turtle Hatch NSW TurtleWatch

We are looking for citizen scientists to walk beaches along the NSW coast, identify marine turtle tracks and nests, and collect important information about potential threats.

our Objective

The objective of NSW TurtleWatch is to promote the long-term recovery and conservation of marine turtles in NSW. The key program goals are to:

  • engage citizen scientists to monitor beaches for nesting marine turtles,
  • train and enlist volunteers to assist management agencies to protect marine turtle nests,
  • increase public awareness about marine turtles and nesting in NSW,
  • identify potential threats, such as marine debris, coastal erosion, and light pollution on nesting beaches to contribute to conservation.

Background and Support

Marine turtle nests and hatchings have been reported in NSW from the early 1900’s. Predominantly loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green (Chelonia mydas) turtles have been recorded to nest, with the rare occurrence of leatherback nests in 1992-93 and 1995. In 2008, Australian Seabird & Turtle Rescue created the ‘Make Turtles Count’ program, with guidance and support from WWF.

With increased local interest and a potential increase in nesting numbers the program was re-developed in 2019 as NSW TurtleWatch – citizen science nesting program.

What is citizen science?

The Australian Citizen Science Association defines citizen science as: “public participation and collaboration in scientific research with the aim to increase scientific knowledge.” Citizen scientists play an important role in collecting valuable data that otherwise may not be accessible.

What do NSW TurtleWatch Volunteers do?

Do you enjoy walking on the beach? You can help sea turtles just by going for a walk on your local beach.

Citizen scientists with NSW TurtleWatch walk their local beaches November to March, looking for the presence or absence of sea turtle tracks and nests. Identifying where there are no turtle nests is just as important to establish overall nesting numbers. During these surveys volunteers can also record potential threats seen on the beaches, such as marine debris or light pollution through the NSW TurtleWatch App.

When volunteering with NSW TurtleWatch volunteer safety is the highest priority. We want everyone involved with NSW TurtleWatch to learn in a safe, fun, relaxed, and inclusive environment.

Refer to the “Beach Monitoring Guidelines” for volunteer responsibilities.

Getting Involved

Anyone can be a citizen scientist and contribute to important research just by going for a walk on the beach. See the tutorials and manual for details on how to start collecting beach monitoring data, or get in touch to request more information and guidance.

Beach Monitoring Guidelines

  • Here is a simple YouTube video about how to conduct a beach patrol for NSW TurtleWatch looking for sea turtle nests along the NSW coast.
  • This tutorial explains how you can report your Beach Patrol for NSW TurtleWatch and how to use the NSW TurtleWatch App through Survey123. REMEMBER: If you don’t see a turtle track this is still important information, please record all walks.
  • Here are 2 printable pdfs that you can download to take with you on a beach patrol. Note: Please consider the environment and only print what you need.
Important Dates
  • First week of October – First newsletter sent to volunteers.
  • 1st November – Nesting season and beach monitoring starts.
  • 1st March – end of beach monitoring.

If you would like more information about the NSW TurtleWatch please fill in the form below.

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