What it looks like: The shell of the Flatback Turtle is greenish-grey, has four large scales arranged either side, curves up at the edges, and can be nearly a metre in length. This marine turtle leaves symmetrical tracks in the sand.

Flatback Turtle - Natator depressus

Photo: © EPA Qld


Where it lives: Flatback Turtles feed on soft corals, jellyfish and sea cucumbers in shallow marine waters. They are found only in the tropical waters of Australia and New Guinea. They have an extensive distribution around the coastline of the Northern Territory, and breed at many mainland and island sites.

Importance as an indicator: Healthy Flatback Turtle populations are a reflection of the fishing and hunting activities across their range, as well as predation levels at nesting sites.

Look after Flatback Turtle and other marine turtles by controlling potential predators at nesting sites, especially pigs and wild dogs. Removing pigs that have learned to prey on nests is more important than removing entire pig populations, which is really only possible on naturally isolated beaches. Clean up marine debris, particularly abandoned ghost nests, and prevent such items as plastic bags from contributing to marine pollution. Make sure any turtle harvesting is undertaken according to sustainable management planning, and that measures are taken to prevent turtles ending their days as bycatch. Fit appropriate turtle exclusion or bycatch reduction devices to fishing nets.

Best Practice Management for Flatback Turtle

* Control pest animals * Limit harvest to sustainable levels * Reduce bycatch * Clean up ghost nets * Prevent marine pollution * More information is needed about this species