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Wildfire causes major losses to ground cover, and is a key contributor to erosion of Cape York’s fragile soils, to sedimentation of water ways, and to poorer water quality on Cape York.  It also results in reduced biodiversity and a reduction of suitable grazing country.

By Lyndal Scobell

Predatory raids on turtle egg nests continue to threaten the survival of two endangered turtle species that nest on the shores of western Cape York Peninsula.

Feral pigs are the most common culprits.  Nearly 100% of Olive Ridley and Flatback turtle nests have suffered predation in recent years. Cape York Sustainable Futures (CYSF) hosted the Cape York Sea Turtle Project for the past six years, working  with Western Cape communities and ranger groups to reduce the impact of predators on the turtles eggs, increasing the chances of species survival.

What it looks like: The Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin is a small a grey to very light grey dolphin that can grow up to 3 m long. It has a long beak and a small triangular fin on its back, which can have distinctive pink pigmentation. Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins are slow swimmers, usually found in small schools, often in the same areas as the Australian Snubfin or Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins.

What it looks like: The Sei Whale is a large baleen whale that can grow to about 16 metres long. It is dark blue-grey on the back and paler below, with a small prominent fin about two-thirds of way down its body. It has a single ridge from the tip of its snout to its blowhole, and numerous throat grooves.

What it looks like: The Loggerhead Turtle has the largest head of all sea turtles found in Northern Territory waters. Adults can also be identified from their reddish-brown shells that have five large scutes along either side. Hatchlings have dark brown shells and light brown underbellies. They leave asymmetrical tracks in the sand because of their loping gait.

Project Number: CY PA 10 - Turtles

Project Name: Phase Two Cape York Turtle Nest Monitoring Project

Organisation: Cape York Peninsula Development Association

What it looks like: The Leatherback Turtle is the largest of all living sea turtles. It can weigh up to 500 kg and have a shell length of over one and a half metres. Its leathery shell has five longitudinal ridges and tapers to a point at the tail end. It is black with lighter spots. The shells of hatchlings are black with white markings on the ridges.

What it looks like: This large marine mammal can grow to 18 m long. Mostly black, it is white on its chin, belly and flippers. Clusters of tubercles make it look barnacle-encrusted. Its spectacular displays include launching its body out of the ocean, then crashing down on the water surface, and raising its broad tail flukes above the water in repeated dives.

Australia is home to some of the most venomous snakes in the world.