Sea turtle encounters

Sea turtles can be encountered on Western Australia's Coral Coast all year round and hatchlings may be sighted during turtle nesting season. You can snorkel with them through the beautiful coral gardens of the Ningaloo Marine Park. You can see them pop their heads up out of the water on a wildlife cruise in the Shark Bay Marine Park. Or you can watch them nesting and hatching on a night tour in Cape Range National Park.

The loggerhead turtle is the most endangered species of sea turtle in the world, and Western Australia’s Coral Coast is home to the two major breeding sites during turtle nesting season. These locations are the Turtle Bay area of northern Dirk Hartog Island, in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, and the Muiron Islands near the Ningaloo Marine Park.

The Ningaloo Reef region also supports large populations of green, hawksbill and flatback turtles, and Shark Bay is an important turtle nesting site, with up to 6,000 sea turtles living in its waters. The Department of Parks and Environment (DPAW) Western Australian Marine Turtle Project is researching valuable information into the life history, behaviour and conservation of turtles in Shark Bay.

Please ensure you read the turtle watcher's code of conduct before heading to the beaches to interact with marine turtles.

Turtle nesting season (November - April)

Green turtles, loggerhead turtles and hawksbill turtles, three of the world’s seven species of marine turtles, nest on mainland beaches adjacent to Ningaloo Reef during the summer months between November and April annually.

If you would like to view nesting marine turtles DPAW strongly recommends that you visit the Jurabi Turtle Centre and encourages you to participate in a guided experience. By participating in guided turtle experiences, you are actively helping to conserve marine turtles and will have a better opportunity to view marine turtles nesting in the natural environment.

Turtle Hatching season (late Jan - March)

Approximately six weeks after the turtle nesting season (usually February and March), the hatchlings will emerge and make their way quickly down the beach sand into the warm water. To learn more about the Turtle Hatching season and best places to see the hatchlings.

Jurabi Turtle Centre

Located in the Jurabi Coastal Reserve 13 kilometres from Exmouth Township, the Jurabi Turtle Centre  is an interpretive educational facility constructed in recognition of the urgent need to manage turtle-visitor interaction and minimise the impact of human disturbance on nesting marine turtles along the Ningaloo coast. The centre provides a focus for marine turtle conservation and education and facilitates a sustainable turtle observation program. Educational displays and signage inform visitors about turtle biology and behaviour, threats, appropriate observation techniques and conservation strategies. This material is accessible to the public at all times.

The Ningaloo Turtle Program

The Ningaloo Turtle Program is a community volunteer conservation project, established by the The Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW), the Cape Conservation Group and WWF Australia and collects valuable information on turtle species, nests, tracks, disturbance and predation during nesting season. This information helps to educate the public and scientists alike and ensures the ongoing protection of these ancient mariners.  Visit the Ningaloo Turtle Program website for more details.

Visit the Exmouth Visitor Centre or Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery and Visitor Centre website for more information about sea turtles or turtle nesting season on Western Australia’s Coral Coast.

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