Decay Rates

Three days too late? Dried out turtle carcass found on Bremmer Island near Nhulunbuy, NT. Photo by Alistair Dermer.

Decay Rates

We know that lost and abandoned fishing nets (ghost nets) are killing countless fish, birds, crabs and turtles around the world.

In the Gulf of Carpentaria it is thought that ghost net entanglement is the main cause of turtle death. University of Queensland honours student, Hayley Jones, has focused her research on understanding how long nets have been “fishing” in the water. The goal is to be able to look at the condition of entangled animals (or bones) in the nets and “age” the remains. Over the past year Hayley, with the help of Mapoon Land and Sea Rangers, has looked at the decomposition rate of turtles and fish under different conditions, including water temperature, current flow and position within the water column. Hayley is currently analysing the results of the four major studies carried out, with results to be finalised by mid 2014.

Photo below: Pulling in the finished experiments in Mapoon, September 2013.