About Turtle Health Research

Filling the empty pages in the book of turtle health

Sea turtles are iconic animals on the Great Barrier Reef, virtually on the doorstep of James Cook University (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, there is a lack of research into what a healthy turtle looks like, which makes it difficult to diagnose and treat sick turtles.

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. The Caraplace can house up to 48 sea turtle hatchlings in separate tanks 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. An outdoor nursery area was added to the Caraplace in 2018.

Some of the great work done at The Caraplace includes the recent release of eleven critically endangered hawksbill turtles after raising them from hatchlings. Visit the Media and News page to see news and video coverage of the research done by the Turtle Health research facility.

Get involved and make a difference

We generally source our field volunteers through the Sea Turtle Foundation Register of Volunteers and work closely together in the field if there is a beach component and the public is involved. This is the best place for you to register and will also give you other sea turtle conservation opportunities.

All of our research and operations are funded by organisations or private donors, who take an interest in turtle conservation. We are very grateful for this as we would not be able to do it without them and would therefore like to acknowledge their generous contribution and support.

Big Thank You Goes to:

  • Glencore
  • James N. Kirby Foundation
  • The John Villiers Trust
  • William Richards Trust
  • John T Reid Charitable Trusts
  • WWF-Australia
  • The Winifred Violet Scott Charitable Trust
  • The E Robert Hayles and Alison L Hayles Charitable Trust
  • Albert George and Nancy Caroline Youngman Trust
  • Sea Turtle Foundation
  • Raymond Rudd Msc.
  • NQ Dry Tropics
  • Townsville Triathlon