Loggerhead turtle - endangered species listing

NSW Scientific Committee - final determination

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Final Determination to list the Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta (Linnaeus, 1758), as an ENDANGERED SPECIES on Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Act and, as a consequence, to omit reference to that species as a Vulnerable Species on Schedule 2 of the Act. Listing is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.

The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. The Loggerhead Turtle is a marine reptile that occurs from north-east New South Wales to Queensland, the Northern Territory and south to Shark Bay in Western Australia. In Australia, the species breeds in south-east Queensland and on the mid-west coast of Western Australia, with breeding infrequent in NSW.

2. The Loggerhead Turtle is a relatively long-lived animal (>50 years). There is a long period between hatching and sexual maturity (8-15 years) and egg-laying can be non-annual. This means there can be a long delay between when a threatening process starts and a measurable change in the population size.

3. Factors threatening Loggerhead Turtles include: increased predation on nests by introduced predators such as pigs and foxes; disturbance of nesting sites and feeding grounds by human activities; mortality from commercial fishing activities such as pelagic long-lines and drift-nets; shark netting and prawn and mollusc trawling.

4. C. J. Limpus and D. Reimer (1994 - The loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta, in Queensland: a population in decline. In Proceedings of the Australian Marine Turtle Conservation Workshop. Environment Australia, Canberra. Pp. 39-59) have demonstrated that the number of adult Loggerhead Turtles has declined by as much as 80%. Further, predictive population modelling of Loggerhead Turtle populations indicates a high risk of the species declining to extinction in eastern Australia in the near future.

5. The national status of Loggerhead Turtles under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 has recently been changed from Vulnerable to Endangered.

6. In view of points 2 to 5, the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that the Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta (Linnaeus, 1758), is likely to become extinct in nature in New South Wales unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate.

Proposed Gazettal date: 05/10/01

Exhibition period: 05/10/01 - 0911/01

About the NSW Scientific Committee

Page last updated: 28 February 2011