The Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI)—the scientific research arm of the Australian Museum (AM) — brings both collections-based research and wildlife forensic science expertise to the ShellBank project, a global marine turtle genetic database. AMRI’s Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics (ACWG), is a key partner in the project.

What is ShellBank?

ShellBank is a game changer in global efforts to improve conservation outcomes for marine turtles. ShellBank provides a vital resource for effective conservation and management of these threatened species by equipping researchers and conservationists with the data and knowledge to safeguard at-risk marine turtle populations and their habitats. It can be used by researchers and conservation managers to identify and track a turtle’s population origin, its connectivity and geographic (transmigratory) boundary through use of its DNA.

ShellBank is also a vital intelligence resource for law enforcement, providing the data required to track turtles and turtle parts from sale to source, allowing for the identification of populations most impacted by the illegal turtle trade and in need of protection.

Initiated by World Wide Fund for Nature, ShellBank is a multi-partner initiative with involvement from collaborators across multiple sectors. Alongside AMRI, key partners include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and the TRACE Wildlife Forensics Network. Each play a key role in collecting and analysing genetic samples in the database, among other areas of support.

Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics contribution to the ShellBank Project

Australian Museum partners, Lindblad Expeditions | National Geographic, provide financial support to AMRI to support ACWG’s contribution and genomic research toward the ShellBank project. The funding provided by the partnership supports the following research:

  • Generate genetic data from marine turtle populations not currently represented in the ShellBank database to improve our understanding of marine turtle species, in particular green and hawksbills, stocks around Australia and the Pacific.
  • Improve conservation outcomes and the mitigation of the illegal trade of these species.
  • Generate data that would be applied in method development and capacity building in AMRI and AMRI’s Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics.

For more information on the ShellBank project visit