The Tiwi Islands lie 20km north of Darwin and comprise Melville Island and Bathurst Islands (Australia's 2nd and 5th largest islands respectively) and numerous smaller islands. The islands have a combined coastline of around 800km, much of which is inaccessible by road and therefore creating considerable challenges for management. The coastal area holds strong cultural significance to Tiwi people, and the main communities of Nguiu, Pirlangimpi and Milikapiti are located on the coastline.
Several key components led to the development of sea turtle conservation work and
the development of this Natural Heritage Trust project on the Tiwi Islands; 1) a large
population of endangered olive ridley turtles in an accessible location, 2) a successful
marine ranger program already established on the Tiwi Islands, 3) a successful
satellite tracking study conducted in 2004, 4) a desire and interest of Tiwi Traditional
Owners to manage their own sea turtle stocks and 5) a lack of sea turtle educational
material and resources on the Tiwi Islands.