In a stunning achievement in the protection of the marine environment, a record 13,000 hatchlings of endangered turtle species have been released off the idyllic Conflict Islands in a project supported by the guest funded P&O Pacific Partnership.
This landmark achievement announced today to mark World Ocean Day 2021 represents the most successful hatchling season to date for the Conflict Islands Conservation Initiative (CICI), a charity dedicated to the protection of the rare marine turtles.
The release of the turtle hatchlings into the warm waters of the Coral Sea is part of the charity’s partnership with P&O Cruises Australia to monitor marine turtle populations and to develop a long-term tagging and nesting program.
With 21 islands surrounding a bright blue lagoon, the Conflict Islands is one of the most popular destinations on P&O’s Papua New Guinea itineraries.
P&O Cruises Australia President Sture Myrmell said the P&O Pacific Partnership support for the turtle project was a natural extension of the amazing experiences guests enjoyed during calls to the Conflict Islands.
“Our guests know the Conflict Islands are a jewel of the marine environment and many visit the turtle sanctuary during their visits,” Mr Myrmell said.
“Through their contributions to the P&O Pacific Partnership, our guests know that they are making a difference in the protection of endangered marine life.
“We are looking forward to our ships returning to the Conflict Islands but it is good to know that this important project is continuing in the meantime.
“It’s also excellent to hear news of the record hatchling release on World Ocean Day, which underscores our own commitment to protection of the marine environment.”
The release of the record 13,000 turtle hatchlings into the warm waters of the Coral Sea took place over a four month period from November last year to February this year.
In another first for the P&O Pacific Partnership, guest donations have also helped the CICI tag more than 1,200 marine turtles to confirm how many are nesting on the islands in order to conserve, protect and increase the population for future generations.
Since the start of the program, the CICI has also trained 47 staff and community members as turtle conservation rangers who have helped protect more than 20,000 hatchlings.
The Conflict Islands Conservation Initiative Project Manager Hayley Versace said the P&O Pacific Partnership support would help increase the number of hatchlings released and also help educate and inspire local communities.
“The program’s reach goes beyond communities that P&O guests visit because the lessons travel with individuals throughout the province and more widely in Papua New Guinea as students return to their home provinces and talk about the initiatives and research. It really has wide reaching effects,” Ms Versace said.
During this pause in operations, P&O Cruises Australia guests can continue to show their support for the efforts being carried out by the CICI by visiting www.cici.org.au/donate.