Scientists are tagging hundreds of turtles off Qld as part of a study that aims to solve the mystery of mass turtle stranding in 2012.

Researchers are trying to solve the mystery of what caused the mass strandings and deaths of green turtles in Queensland’s far north two years ago

They are tagging hundreds of turtles along the Great Barrier Reef as part of a project to try and prevent more deaths.

WWF-Australia’s national manager for species Darren Grover says the aim is to work out which contaminants are in the water, the degree to which green turtles are absorbing them and how this may impact their health.

“Turtles are a good barometer of reef health and the contaminants affecting them are also likely to be impacting other marine creatures,” he said.

“Finding out which chemicals are a problem will help government and industry target programs to prevent potential toxins from entering the Reef.”

Researchers from WWF-Australian and the Banrock Station Environmental Trust have so far caught, tagged and measured about 700 turtles along the reef.

Samples of blood, shell and stomach contents have been taken from many of the turtles to give scientists a clearer picture of the animal’s potential exposure to chemicals.

It’s hoped the study will to help figure out why about 100 green turtles stranded at Upstart Bay, south of Townsville, in 2012.

Some of the samples taken during the study, of which results won’t be available for about three and half years, will be compared to those taken from turtles that died in the stranding.

Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell says it shouldn’t be assumed contaminants in the water are to blame for the animals’ deaths.

“I think that’s answering the question before we’ve done the research,” he told the ABC.

“I stress every study we’ve done to date hasn’t produced a definitive case.”