Top takeaways from our second Science in the S.E.A.A. with turtle expert Prof Mark Hamann

On 3 June 2018, international marine turtle expert Associate Professor Mark Hamann of James Cook University (JCU) shared some of his recent research findings on marine turtles at the second instalment of Science in the S.E.A.A.

His research at JCU covers largely:

  • Coastal development and changing habitats of marine turtles
  • Identifying and maintaining their key habitats
  • Rehabilitation of injured marine turtles
  • Importance of community effort in the protection and conservation of marine turtle populations


Professor Hamann said that over the years, there has been a positive shift in turtle-based tourism. In the past, people used to ride them when they go up to the beach to lay their eggs and back. Today, these beaches have become protected areas where people are encouraged to observe from a distance and take pictures instead.

Research in recent years have also shown breakthrough biological findings, such as:

  • Temperature dependent sex determination
  • Population genetics and boundaries
  • Migration and natal homing
  • Growth rates and age at maturity
  • Hatchling dispersal and offshore navigation
Professor Hamann also shared that the two greatest concerns for turtle populations are human consumption (of their eggs) and trading of turtle products (tortoise shell).

Currently, Southeast Asia has achieved significant success in marine turtle conservation, thanks to protective legislation, threat management, as well as community and NGO-based conservation. #oceanoptimism

Professor Hamann also added that while much success has been achieved in the region, population recovery will take a long time due to on-going challenges such as light pollution (disorientate marine turtle hatchlings), climate change (temperatures and rising sea levels) and plastic pollution.

Members of the audience also took the opportunity to ask Professor Hamann questions about marine turtles during the Q&A session.


To the questions about what laymen do to help turtles in the wild, Professor Hamann shared that factors contributing to plastic pollution and climate change are some of the things we can all work on. For example, look for alternatives and choose energy efficient options are simple habitual change that can help in the long run.


If you’d like to attend similar sharing sessions by prominent marine biologists and take part in marine conservation related activities like beach cleanups and reef cleanups, join Guardians of the S.E.A.A. today. Details here

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