A group of young turtles with satellite tags have been released into the wild off the coast of Queensland so scientists can study their early 'lost years’.
The miniature, solar-powered trackers were fitted to nine flatback turtles as part of a world-first marine conservation project.
The juveniles were collected as hatchlings in February 2016, but spent the past 12 months at Sea Life Sunshine Coast.
On Tuesday, the 15-centimetre-long reptiles were released 10 nautical miles from the Bundaberg coast, not far from where they were born.
Sea Life Sunshine Coast general curator Aaron Sprowl said the project would help researchers capture 'the lost years' of a flatback turtle's life.
'It goes out to sea and more or less it disappears for five to 10 years of its life,' he told AAP.
'The goal for the satellite tagging is to try and get an idea of where they go and what they do.’
Mr Sprowl said it was also hoped the project would help conservation efforts to stop the vulnerable species from becoming endangered.
'We don't find this turtle anywhere else in the world except for Australian waters,' he said.
The tracking initiative is expected to last for about three months or until the tags break free from the turtles as they grow.
However Mr Sprowl said more hatchlings had been collected this year ahead of their planned release in 2018.
People interested in tracking the turtles can visit Sea Life Sunshine Coast's social media pages.