JCU Turtle Health Research

Filling the empty pages in the book on turtle health

Sea turtles are iconic animals on the Great Barrier Reef, right on the doorstep of JCU. When these endangered animals suffer from poor health, JCU is the closest ‘port of call’.

Given how little we currently know about these magnificent creatures, the world’s first turtle health research facility at JCU - The Caraplace - provides an environment in which to study sea turtle health in great detail under suitable conditions.

Turtle research team on a boat

The JCU Turtle Health Research team on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Caraplace (named after the hard upper shell of a turtle, the carapace) is an indoor facility that can house up to 48 sea turtle hatchlings, each in their own tank, where they can freely eat, swim and rest on a sub-surface platform. The facility caters for the needs of the turtles under near natural conditions, but it also enables researchers to study them close up, which is impossible to do in the wild.

Inside the Caraplace JCU Turtle Health Research facility at JCU Townsville

An Outer Shell extension to The Caraplace was opened in May 2018 after a lot of hard work and some very generous donations. This extension to the facility provides the young turtles with a secure outdoor nursery area in which they can swim about and bask in the sun throughout the day.

Turtles swimming in tanks

An outdoor ‘Turtle Nursery’ is planned, and will protect hatchlings from predators while allowing them exposure to sunlight via retractable shade sails that will keep them cool in summer and warm in winter. The construction of this nursery will commence soon.

Some of the great work done at The Caraplace includes the recent release of eleven critically endangered hawksbill turtles after raising them from hatchlings.

Sea turtles are a beloved and iconic fixture in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and in oceans and beaches around the world. However, there is a lack of research into what a healthy turtle looks like, which makes it difficult to diagnose and treat sick turtles. We are asking for your support to unlock the mysteries of these iconic creatures.

Caring for turtles in The Caraplace requires daily attention from the volunteers, equipment maintenance, as well as purchasing and preparing food and other supplies for the residents. This takes a lot of time, effort , and money.

Your gift in support of The Caraplace at JCU is an investment in the future of sea turtles, helping JCU researchers fill the empty pages in the book on turtle health.

Support JCU Turtle Health research, donate here.